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Monday, September 5, 2022

No Place Is Safe From Sexual Assault

      If you think that a woman sedated in a hospital room or asleep onboard a commercial airliner would not be in danger of sexual assault you would be wrong. Sexual offenders are everywhere, can be anyone and commit crimes in places that reasonable people assume are safe.

The Case of Shafeeq Sheikh

     In 2013, Dr. Shafeeq Sheikh, an Indian-American physician, was working the night shift at the Ben Taub Hospital in Houston, Texas. That evening a 29-year-old woman was admitted for shortness of breath and wheezing. During the night, Dr. Sheikh used his access card key twelve times to gain entrance onto this patient's  floor. While she lay in bed sedated, he sexually assaulted her several times. The victim kept pressing the nurse call button but it didn't work.

     A full two years after the victim's rape kit DNA matched up to Dr. Sheikh, Assistant District Attorney Lauren Reeder charged him with second-degree sexual assault, a crime that carried a sentence of up to twenty years in prison.

     Following Dr. Sheikh's arrest, the Texas Medical Board revoked his license to practice in the state.

     The case went to trial in August 2018, five years after the crime. The defendant admitted sexual contact with this patient but claimed that the act was consensual.

     At the conclusion of the four-day trial, the jury found Dr. Sheikh guilty as charged. In Texas, juries had the power to determine the defendant's sentence. Before his sentencing, the former physician pleaded with the jurors to show compassion and go easy on him because his criminal behavior had made life difficult for his wife and children. The jury must have been moved by this plea because it recommended a sentence of ten years probation. Although the leniency of this sentence shocked everyone in the courtroom, including the defense attorneys, the judge had no recourse but to follow the jury's recommendation. So, no prison time for a doctor who took sexual advantage of a sedated hospital patient. The former physician, pursuant to his sentence, had to register as a sex offender.

     The victim in this case, in speaking to a local television reporter, said she believed this man had sexually assaulted other women.

The Case of Prabhu Ramamoorthy

     On January 3, 2018, Prabhu Ramamoorthy and his wife were passengers on an overnight Spirit Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Detroit. Ramamoorthy, from India, was in the United States on a work visa.

     The sleeping 22-year-old woman in the window seat next to Ramamoorthy was jolted awake. She found her pants unzipped and Ramamoorthy's hand in her underwear. Her blouse had also been unbuttoned.

     When the plane landed in Detroit, FBI agents took the sexual fondler into custody. United States Attorney Matthew Schneider charged Mr. Ramamoorthy with the federal crime of sexual assault, a crime that carried a sentence of up to life in prison.

     Ramamoorthy's trial got underway in August 2018. When he took the stand on his own behalf, the defendant claimed that when he used his finger to penetrate the woman in the seat next to him, he was in a "deep sleep" that came over him after taking a Tylenol pill. The jurors, not being idiots, rejected this defense, and after just four hours of deliberation, found Ramamoorthy guilty as charged.

     The judge, on December 12, 2018, sentenced Prabhu Ramamoorthy to nine years in prison.

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