Indian American Doctor Convicted for Raping Sedated Patient Gets Probation
The Houston-based former doctor will have to get registered as a sex offender for life.
A doctor of Indian origin, convicted for raping a hospitalized patient while she was sedated, was sentenced to serve a probation of 10 years. Houston-based Shafeeq Sheikh will have to get registered as a sex offender for life, the court ruled on Aug. 17.
Jurors convicted the former doctor with a second degree sexual assault, which carries a punishment of up to 20 years in prison, after 14 hours of deliberation. The Texas jury then sentenced Sheikh, a 46-year-old former physician at the Baylor College of Medicine, to 10 years of probation, PTI reported.
The decision sparked criticism on the social media, and among law enforcement officials and victims’ rights groups.
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“This is beyond troubling,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said, according to CNN. “A hideous crime is committed in a hospital room which should be a sanctuary for patients. So many new norms that run contrary to what we’ve always stood for, I pray no accountability for harming people isn’t one of them.”
However, Sheikh’s attorney Lisa Andrews, who argued that the intercourse between the two was consensual, welcomed the jury’s decision, the Washington Post reported. “The 12 members of the jury who sat there and heard evidence for two solid weeks were in the best position to make that call … And when you’re not there and you haven’t heard the evidence, people should not jump to conclusions about facts they didn’t hear,” Andrews said. “The facts are not black and white,” she added, but “usually a version of gray.”
Dane Schiller, a spokesperson for the Harris County District Attorney’s office, told ABC News: “After being presented all the evidence, the jury convicted this man of rape and decided that he should be sentenced to 10 years of probation; the jury voted on behalf of the community to determine his sentence, and although prosecutors sought 20 years in prison, we respect this process, and the jury’s decision, which carries with it a lifetime of registering as a sex offender.”
The incident took place at Ben Taub General Hospital in Houston in 2013, when the victim was admitted as an acute asthma patient. While being under observation, she developed seizures in her hands and feet, and an elevated heartbeat.
She claimed in her lawsuit that Sheikh, who was not assigned for her treatment, entered the room three times throughout the night, touching her inappropriately, and the third time, he raped her while she was heavily sedated and going in and out of consciousness.
The victim, now 32, said she pulled the bell to call nurses while being assaulted but it was unplugged. Witnesses confirmed that the bell was unplugged.
The prosecutors took two years to file the case against Sheikh based on DNA evidences in a rape kit that matched the sample of the doctor’s cheek swab. He was charged in October 2015, and his medical license was suspended.
Sheikh attempted to represent the whole encounter as a consensual one. He said that the woman “came on him” during his first visit and he gave in to the temptations. He further accused the woman of filing the lawsuit for monetary reasons.
“Here we have this Latina woman with her fake boobs that came onto that little nerdy middle-aged guy, and he lost his mind,” Andrews said in her closing statement, according to reports.
Surveillance camera of the hospital showed that Sheikh entered the building several times that night and swiped his card at least 12 times.
“He sought her out. He chose her to prey on,” Assistant District Attorney Lauren Reeder was quoted as saying by PTI.
“You know he’s the type of man who would go in multiple times, testing the waters, seeing how far he could go and get back to his normal business after that.
“You know he’s the kind man of who walked around for two years before he was charged with this… knowing what he did,” she added.
Sheikh’s lawyers pleaded to the jury, referring to his earlier clean records and that he has a family.
“The dreams of a man, the childhood dream to become a doctor, were shattered by his conduct. He destroyed his own dreams,” Sheikh’s lawyer Stanley Schneider said, according to the report.
“What he has done to himself and his family is punishment. They are serving his sentence with him. His children are serving his sentence with him.”
Shiekh denied to comment after the sentencing. The victim has expressed her wish to move on from the incident.