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Doctor who raped and photographed unconscious patients avoids prison time

30 September 2015, 12:01

A California news website, 10News.com reported that a 68-year-old San Diego doctor, Jeffrey Joel Abrams, has admitted to sexual assault on female patients in a free healthcare clinic.

He also reportedly took photographs of their naked bodies.  

On 30 July 2015 he pleaded guilty to "eight counts of sexual penetration of an unconscious person, three counts of sexual battery and one count of possession of child pornography" according to San Diego Deputy District Attorney Kerry Conway.

Unusual sentence

Abrams was arrested in November 2015 after more than 1,300 explicit photos were found on his cellphone, one of which was of an eight-year-old girl.

He was sentenced to one year in jail to be served as house arrest, and five years formal probation.

Speaking to NBC San Diego, Marc Carlos, a criminal defense attorney in San Diego, said it was an unusual sentence because these kinds of charges usually result in a jail sentence of at least 20 years.

Kerry Conway expected Abrams to face a sentence of 25 years. 

During his year's house arrest Abrams will be monitored by means of a GPS personal tracking device and will be barred from leaving his house.

He will also need to register as a sex offender and won't be allowed to practice medicine again.  

Abrams’ lawyer, Alex Landon, argued for a lighter sentence than recommended and no jail time because of Abrams' age, the fact that he was willing to plead guilty and his medical problems (he reportedly has kidney cancer) and apparent complications due to cancer surgery. He is also believed to have "a low risk of re-offending".

Invasive acts

The prosecutor agreed that a no-custody sentence would be a just resolution to the case.    

The probation officer’s report however, doesn't agree with the conclusion and emphasised that Abrams used his position as a doctor to make his patients believe that his "invasive acts" were done for professional reasons.

Because they were economically disadvantaged and didn't speak much English, they were also less likely to report the crimes committed against them. 

Probation officer Deanna Silva, who wrote the report, recommended that Abrams be sentenced to prison for 20 years and 8 months because of the impact of his actions on the victims, the blot he cast on the medical profession and for the protection of the community. 

Judges are however not required to follow the recommendations of the probation officer.

The judge also heard from the attorneys representing Abrams’ victims and the clinic - Volunteers in Medicine, a low-income clinic in El Cajon in San Diego - where the sex crimes took place. The lawyers indicated that their clients were satisfied with the no-custody recommendation by the defense and prosecution.

The clients were reportedly happy that Abrams will need to register as a sex offender and be permanently barred from practicing medicine in California.

It has also been confirmed that Abrams will compensate his victims for the harm he caused them, although the amounts will not be made public. The payments will probably come from insurance policies held by Abrams and the clinic.

- Health24

Tags health

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