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Connecticut Court Affirms |Ex-Doctor’s Convictions

HARTFORD, Conn. (CN) - The Connecticut Appellate Court upheld a former doctor's sexual assault and witness tampering convictions, ruling that evidence about an incident from earlier in his accuser's life was correctly excluded at trial.

Dr. Edwin Njoku invited a patient to his empty office on a Saturday in October 2011 to pick up medical documents, according to court records.

The 15-page appeals court ruling states that he directed the victim to an examination table, where he undressed and raped her without regard for her protests.

She immediately returned home to tell her parents what happened and called 911 for transportation to a hospital where investigators completed a rape kit, court records show.

Njoku reached out to the victim's father by phone asking that he not take action against him because it would "destroy [his] life if he said anything," the ruling states.

Njoku reportedly convinced a minister that "the victim went to her appointment wearing a miniskirt and no underwear and his mistake was seeing her alone," according to the ruling.

Tuesday's ruling says that the minister advised the victim's family not to accept a payoff from the doctor after hearing her version of the story.

After the minister also refused to help Njoku avoid the consequences of his actions, he sat through a seven-day trial in Hartford Superior Court.

Judge Elpedio Vitale sentenced Njoku to 10 years in prison, suspended after five years, plus five years of probation, after the jury found him guilty in October 2013 of fourth-degree sexual assault and tampering with a witness.

Njoku asked permission during his trial to question the victim about an alleged false accusation of sexual assault from 1997, when she was 14 years old.

After an evidentiary hearing, the trial court declined to allow evidence from the 1997 incident, finding that the doctor did not prove that her claims about the event were false. The Connecticut Appellate Court affirmed the decision on Tuesday.

"Because the defendant failed to establish that the prior accusation was false, he did not establish the relevancy of this testimony," Judge Maria Kahn wrote for the appeals court's three-judge panel.

Njoku also unsuccessfully appealed the witness tampering conviction after claiming there was no evidence that he or the minister had direct contact with the victim.

"The jury reasonably could have concluded that the defendant believed that an official proceeding against him was pending or about to be instituted, and that, by asking Ruiz to contact the victim's family about reaching an agreement out of court, he was attempting to induce the victim to testify falsely or to withhold testimony," Kahn wrote.

In addition, the former doctor asked that the trial court throw out testimonies of two other patients who claimed Njoku was sexually inappropriate during their offices visits with him.

The appeals court declined to address admission of that evidence, finding that Njoku did not show how the trial court's decision to allow the testimony harmed him.

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