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Cleared Doctor Says Police Got It All Wrong

PHOENIX (CN) - Mesa police detectives coached patients of a Mesa doctor to make false sexual assault accusations against him, of which he was acquitted after his name was smeared, the doctor claims of court.

Gabriel Ogbonnaya sued Mesa, its Police Chief Frank Milstead, and police Dets. Laurie Kessler, Rick Scott, and Rick Berry, in Superior Court

"Following his unlawful arrest and charges on misconduct and sexual assault in June of 2010, Dr. Ogbonnaya suffered substantial including the cost of defending himself in the criminal action against him, CR-2011-007 State v. Ogbonnaya. On February 27, 2013, a jury of his peers acting in Maricopa Superior Court unanimously acquitted Dr. Ogbonnaya on all counts," the doctor says in the complaint.

A Maricopa County jury last week acquitted Ogbonnaya, 45, of 11 counts of sexual abuse and one count of sexual assault, The Associated Press reported. The Arizona Medical Board suspended his medical license in June 2010 after police arrested him.

In his lawsuit, Ogbonnaya claims the defendants "conducted a below-standard 'investigation' that was driven by a presumption of guilty (not innocence) and which they fueled with press releases in the media soliciting 'victims' to come forward with allegations against Dr. Ogbonnaya." (Parentheses in complaint.)

The lawsuit continues: "The Mesa Police then coached these 'victims" to make a case against Dr Ogbonnaya and arrested him twice on the basis of the false testimony that they had elicited. During their entire investigation, and even after he was arrested the Mesa Police never obtained the medical records of the women who made allegations against Dr. Ogbonnaya. Had they done so, basic facts demonstrating the lack of merit of many of the allegations against Ogbonnaya would have been apparent."

Ogbonnaya was arrested on June 9, 2010, "for unspecified acts sexual misconduct involving three of his female patients," according to the lawsuit. He was released the next day on his own recognizance.

"Immediately after his arrest on June 9, 2010, the Mesa Police Department sent out a press release listing the charges against Dr. Ogbonnaya, quoting the 'victims' verbatim and remarkably, asking other women to come forward if they had a similar report. The press essentially announced that Dr. Ogbonnaya was 'guilty' and, predictably, elicited a number 'copycat' responses from women claiming to have been harmed by Dr. Ogbonnaya," according to the complaint.

Ogbonnaya claims that defendant Det. Kessler coached his patients to see themselves as victims, and provided them with terms "(such as 'vagina') for the women to use to then re-describe where Dr. Ogbonnaya allegedly touched them. It was these very terms that Detective Kessler then repeated in her police reports as being told to her the women and on which Detective Kessler relied arrest Dr. Ogbonnaya," the complaint states.

Ogbonnaya was rearrested on June 25, 2010, on allegations involving nine women, and his medical license was suspended.

Ogbonnaya claims the Mesa Police Department never asked to review any of his medical records of the women who accused him, "or ask his accusers to sign releases or produce their medical records so that basic 'facts' about the accusers' claimed illnesses and medical problems, and the dates and locations of treatment with Dr. Ogbonnaya could be verified."

He claims the defendants did not interview his staff, "to ascertain basic facts that the women relayed; for example, whether a chaperone was present in the exam rooms when they saw Dr. Ogbonnaya."

He also claims that "The defendants Mesa Police and Detective Kessler refused to speak to Dr. Ogbonnaya would not interview him, despite the fact that Dr. Ogbonnaya asked to be interviewed."

He claims that during the trial, Kessler testified that she was not asked by her superiors whether the Mesa Police Department should issue the press releases, was not given the opportunity to review the releases, and regretted that the press releases were issued.

Ogbonnaya seeks damages for civil rights violations, failure to train and supervise, negligence, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He is represented by Holly Gieszl.

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