Patients abused? Doctor acquitted in case of doubt

The jury believes the women who stated that they were touched by the 48-year-old during the recovery phase after sedation. However, the judge noted that it cannot be ruled out that these were “sexual hallucinations” triggered by the medication used.

Hallucinations as a side effect?

The man was accused of going to the patients in the recovery room after stomach and colonoscopies and touching them. He dismissed this and pointed to sexual hallucinations as a possible side effect of the drugs used for sedation. In a first trial in December 2022, he was sentenced to three years in prison, two of which were conditional. However, the Supreme Court (OGH) upheld his appeal for nullity and overturned the judgment.

When the proceedings were restarted, there was an acquittal – not yet legally binding – which the lay judges’ court justified with the fact that, according to the expert report, sexual fantasies and dreams could actually be side effects of the medication and therefore there would be doubts about the defendant’s guilt. At the same time, one should not assume that the victims are lying.

Four women reported assaults

The surgeon and general practitioner no longer wanted to make any statements when the process was repeated. His assistants emphasized on Wednesday that he was never alone in a room with his patients. There is always an employee there – also because it is known that the medication can lead to sexual hallucinations and they want to protect themselves from such accusations.

The public prosecutor noted that the temporal accumulation of incidents was striking. Four women would report attacks that took place between July and September 2021. However, there were no such allegations before or after. The defense attorney emphasized that there was not enough evidence for a conviction.

No DNA traces found

The OGH justified the overturning of the judgment by saying that the report, according to which the drugs used can cause sexual fantasies and dreams, had not been taken into account accordingly. In addition, no DNA traces were found and some of the women themselves said that they were not sure whether an attack had actually occurred.

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