HOUSTON (CN) – A Texas jury on Thursday convicted a doctor for sexually assaulting a heavily sedated patient in 2013, not buying his defense lawyers’ claims that the victim had seduced him to make her husband jealous and get a legal settlement.
Suffering from a severe asthma attack, the woman went to Ben Taub General Hospital’s emergency room in Houston on Oct. 31, 2013, court records show.
Held for observation, she developed spasms in her feet and hands and an elevated heartbeat.
The woman claims in a lawsuit that Sheikh, who had not been assigned to treat her, entered her room three times in the early morning of Nov. 3, 2013 when she was weak under heavy sedation and slipping in and out of consciousness.
“During the first two visits, the male physician entered the room and placed his mouth on her breast and inserted his fingers into her vagina. He also attempted to place his penis in her mouth,” the lawsuit states.
The woman, now 32, testified in Sheikh’s trial that the third time he went to her room that night he pulled her to the edge of her bed and raped her without a condom. She said she frantically pushed the nurse call button several times, but it had been unplugged.
She woke up the next morning and found her panties and hospital gown on the floor, the Chronicle reported.
It took prosecutors nearly two years to file charges against Sheikh in October 2015 based on DNA evidence in a rape kit. The charges prompted the Texas Medical Board to suspend his license, finding that his continuing practice of medicine is a threat to public safety.
Sheikh tried to portray the encounter as consensual in his criminal trial. He testified that the woman had put his hand on her breasts while he was examining her, the Chronicle reported.
He testified that he returned to her room because her surgically enhanced breasts had aroused him and she touched his penis. She then moved to the edge of the bed to position herself for intercourse, he said.
Sheikh said after he finished, the ramifications for his career immediately hit him.
“It immediately sunk in that something terrible had happened, and I was scared for myself. You’re not supposed to have sex with a patient. That’s part of medical ethics,” he testified.
His defense lawyers claimed the woman had sex with Sheikh to make her husband jealous and to cue up a lawsuit.
She testified in the criminal trial she has separated from her husband because the rape had doomed their marriage.
In October 2015, the woman sued Sheikh, Ben Taub General Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine, which was employing Sheikh as a resident physician when he assaulted the woman.
A state judge first dismissed the claims against Sheikh, due to a Texas law that mandates dismissal of allegations against an employee of a government organization when both the entity and the employee are sued, if the entity moves to dismiss.
Baylor College of Medicine is a nonprofit medical school under contract with the state, so it is considered a government organization.
The judge dismissed the woman’s claims against Ben Taub and Baylor College of Medicine in December 2016 due to a lack of jurisdiction.
Despite the lawsuit dismissal, Sheikh is not yet off the hook financially. He could be fined up to $10,000 in his criminal case.
The jury will hand down his sentence after the punishment phase of his trial, which is expected to conclude Friday.