Permanent stigma and loss of employment are just two of the many consequences (beyond fines and jail time) that come with a sex crime conviction. Action is obviously needed to curb these crimes, but the universal revulsion at the crime should never lead to abdication of the need to ensure all criminal defendants have their rights protected every step of the way.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Kevin Pezeshki, 43, of Tarzana, California and a licensed gynecologist, has been charged with two counts of sexually assaulting one of his patients during an exam at a local hospital. Pezeshki will appear in court for the first time following his arrest last month. According to authorities, there in an ongoing investigation into whether Pezeshki has other victims.
Pezeshki is alleged to have inappropriately touched a female patient during a Sept. 9, 2008, exam at Northridge Hospital Medical Center. According to court records, the alleged victim claims that she turned around and she saw Pezeshki zipping up his pants.
The victim further alleged that following a subsequent surgery, during a hospital visit, Pezeshki began “hitting her on her back”, groping her, “and then ejaculated on her bed sheets.” The woman later brought the bed sheet to police who matched DNA on it to Pezeshki.
Pezeshki has most likely been charged with some type of sexual battery in violation of California Penal Code (“CPC”) Section 243.4. For example, CPC 243.4(e)(1), which defines misdemeanor sexual battery, provides:
Any person who touches an intimate part of another person, if the touching is against the will of the person touched, and is for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, is guilty of misdemeanor sexual battery, punishable by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or by both that fine and imprisonment.
However, if prosecutors believe they can show that Pezeshki improperly touched the alleged victim under the guise of his position as her doctor, Pezeshki might be charged under CPC 243.4(c), defining one of several types of felony sexual battery, which provides:
Any person who touches an intimate part of another person for the victim is at the time unconscious of the nature of the act because the perpetrator fraudulently represented that the touching served a professional purpose, is guilty of sexual battery. A violation of this subdivision is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, and by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000); or by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, and by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Sex crimes in California are taken very seriously and often carry extremely harsh penalties. Further, such crimes perpetrated by individuals in positions of trust, such as doctors or attorneys, are often pursued more aggressively. Some individuals, such as gynecologists are inherently in a position where these sorts of accusations might be made. This is not to suggest that doctor in this case has been wrongly accused. But, it is a reminder that a full criminal defense is provided in these cases so that we can be sure any chance of wrongful conviction is avoided.
Orange County criminal defense attorney Lauren K. Johnson has extensive experience defending sexually-based crimes. If you have questions regarding California’s criminal law or your rights, contact attorney Lauren K. Johnson today.