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DA may add another sex charge
By Zeb Carabello
Originally Posted at the Gilroy Dispatch:http://gilroydispatch.com/news/newsview.asp?c=66084
DA may add another sex charge

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

By Zeb Carabello (zebc@gilroydispatch.com) 
GILROY - The popular Gilroy family physician facing at least five charges of sexual assault against five female patients during pelvic exams will now have to wait until October to learn if he will ever work as a doctor again.

Originally scheduled to begin his second trial last week, Kaiser Permanente doctor Raul Ixtlahuac’s defense attorney Doron Weinberg asked for the trial to be delayed because he had to undergo emergency eye surgery. 

The new trial date is now set for Oct. 6.

“This is a horrible ordeal for the doctor,” the San Francisco-based Weinberg said Monday, “and unfortunately, due to things no one can control, it’s now going to last a few months longer.”

Ixtlahuac faces up to 10 years in prison for the charges, and has been on paid-administrative leave from Kaiser since his arrest in May 2001. His medical license has also been suspended pending the outcome of the trial.

Ixtlahuac, who practiced as a family physician for nearly 12 years at Kaiser Permanente’s Gilroy offices at 7120 Arroyo Circle, was granted a mistrial on March 11 after a 12-person jury could not reach an unanimous decision on five charges of felony sexual assault against the doctor. The jury of eight men and four women who sat through two weeks of testimony in the trial acquited Ixtlahuac, 41, on a sixth charge of sexual assault.

On Friday, Ixtlahuac’s prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Chuck Gillingham, appeared before a judge at the Hall of Justice in San Jose to subpoena records from Kaiser that he said will help him decide if he will include an additional charge against the doctor in the upcoming trial. 

Gillingham said a woman claiming to be a victim of Ixtlahuac’s contacted him during the March trial, but declined to reveal if he will add her charges to the five pending against the doctor. 

“The only thing I can say is that we’re looking into it,” said Gillingham, who made the decision to retry Ixtlahuac following the first trial. “But I don’t think we will have to change our strategy much.”

Throughout the doctor’s original trial, four alleged victims of Ixtlahuac’s testified that he penetrated them with his penis during pelvic examinations, and two women claimed he rubbed them in a sexual manner with his fingers. The doctor was found innocent of one of the latter counts. The jury reported voting 10-2 in favor of guilty on two counts of penetration and 9-3 in favor of guilty on the other three charges. 

Several of the doctor’s female patients testified on his behalf during the previous trial, and several more attended portions of the trial to show their support for Ixtlahuac. Members of the Kaiser staff and administration have spoken in support of the doctor since his arrest.

Ixtlahuac also took the stand himself during the trial and repeatedly denied all charges against him while giving detailed explanations to the jury about each pelvic exam in question. 

All of the alleged incidents took place between the fall of 2000 and spring of 2001 at the doctor’s Gilroy office. During the examinations the women were separated from Ixtlahuac by a large drape hanging over their abdomen which obstructed their view of him.

On Monday, Weinberg said he was not concerned about the possible sixth charge that could be added against his client. The woman would lack credibility in the jury’s eyes because she came forward after reading about the previous trial in the newspaper, Weinberg said.

However, both the prosecution and defense say jury selection will be the key to the outcome of the doctor’s next trial. 

“All I can do is hope we have a jury of people willing to understand this couldn’t happen and didn’t happen,” Weinberg said. “I thought we made that clear last time, but we’ll have to find ways to make sure there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind of Dr. Ixtlahuac’s innocence.”

Gillingham said he is does not plan to change his strategy in the case. 

Kaiser officials have said that Ixtlahuac will remain on paid administrative leave until the trial concludes, but Weinberg said the high cost of legal fees is taking a severe toll on his client’s finances.

Each of the five alleged victims in the upcoming trial - ages 25 to 42 - has filed a civil suit against Ixtlahuac, and most have done the same against Kaiser. The outcome of those suits will be sealed until the criminal trial is over, according to state law. 

Since his arrest, Ixtlahuac has been free on a $250,000 bond.

Ixtlahuac lives in Salinas, is a native of Southern California and received his medical degree from the University of Washington. His residency was completed at Stanford University.
 

 Zeb Carabello covers the crime & courts for The Dispatch. You can reach him atzebc@gilroydispatch.com
 
 


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