Judge acquits Fox Chapel doctor of inappropriate touching
A Fox Chapel physician who deals with drug-addicted patients was cleared on Monday of charges that he sexually assaulted a patient at his White Oak office.
Dr. Raja Chakrapani, 60, was acquitted by Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Philip A. Ignelzi after his accuser told prosecutors she did not wish to testify against him.
“The court is not going to require her to testify at this time,” Ignelzi told Assistant District Attorney Kevin A. Chernosky.
However, the 36-year-old woman may testify against Chakrapani in another courtroom. She filed a civil suit last year, shortly after criminal charges were filed in four cases against the doctor.
Ignelzi said the woman might violate her Fifth Amendment rights by testifying.
Chernosky said he didn't know if she had obtained drugs illegally, while defense attorney Patrick Thomassey of Monroeville said the woman had obtained drugs from another physician.
Thomassey said he was not implying that the woman had obtained drugs illegally.
Thomassey moved for acquittal and Ignelzi granted it.
“He just wants to get back to work,” Thomassey said of his client after the trial. “He doesn't harbor any ill feeling.”
How soon Chakrapani returns to work depends on when state officials lift the suspension of his license to practice medicine.
“He's been off work for nine or 10 months now,” Thomassey said.
The verdict came at the end of a very brief nonjury trial, held once Chakrapani waived his right to have the case of alleged indecent assault and harassment go before a jury.
The woman was the last of four patients who accused Chakrapani of indecent assault and harassment.
Two were patients in White Oak, a third in West Mifflin and a fourth in Swissvale. Chakrapani had clinics in all those locations as well as at UPMC Mercy in Pittsburgh.
“These are all patients who were terminated from the practice,” Chakrapani told reporters, referring to his providing Suboxone to patients seeking to end opiate addictions.
In each case two second-degree misdemeanor counts of indecent assault were filed along with a summary count of harassment.
Thomassey said one woman's case was dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired. Two other cases were dismissed by Magisterial District Judge Thomas G. Miller Jr. in White Oak.
“They just wanted to ruin his career,” Chakrapani's wife Amritha said. She had been at his side at hearings in White Oak and during a wait of more than two hours on Monday morning for trial to begin.
Chakrapani said he never had been contacted by county or local police prior to his arrest last year.
“If they had come to me, I could have told them what happened,” Chakrapani said.
In September the woman filed her civil suit against Chakrapani, but no action has been taken since then. Through a staffer at his office in Pleasant Hills, the woman's attorney, Grey D. Pratt, declined comment.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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