A former Houston doctor won't get prison time after raping an incapacitated woman in a hospital bed.
Shafeeq Sheikh, 46, was sentenced to 10 years of probation on Friday, and he will have to register as a sex offender, according to the Houston Chronicle. A jury in Harris county deliberated 14 hours to reach a guilty verdict after the trial, and the sentencing recommendations they gave are ones the judge is required to follow by law.
The incident happened Nov. 2, 2013 at Ben Taub Hospital in Houston, during the night shift. Sheikh was a resident at the time and the woman was admitted after complaining of wheezing and shortness of breath. She was not one of his patients and she was heavily sedated, according to the Chronicle. At the trial, Sheikh said he went into her room after he noticed her breast implants.
The woman, who testified in the trial, said a doctor came to her room and started touching her breasts in the dark. She said she was weak, confused and sore and tried to call a nurse with the call button, but she couldn’t because it was unplugged. The doctor came back, she testified, two more times, and raped her without a condom.
Sheikh said the sex was consensual, and that the patient put his hand on her breasts. He said she touched his genitals and with her body language showed him she wanted to have sex with him. He knew it was wrong, he said, violating both his marrage and his oath as a doctor, but he was weak and gave in.
Assistant District Attorney Lauren Reeder reminded jurors that the victim was tethered to machines and was very vulnerable at the time.
“He sought her out. He chose her to prey on,” Reeder said, adding that Sheikh knew what medicines she was on. “You know he’s the type of man who would go in multiple times, testing the waters, seeing how far he could go and get back to his normal business after that.”
The woman reported the rape the next day and police eventually got a cheek swab from Sheikh after a subpoena. Sheikh was seen on surveillance video on the same floor as the woman and he used his badge to gain access to her floor 12 times that night, according to testimony in court.
Sheikh wasn't charged until two years later. That's when his medical license was revoked as well, with the Texas Medical Board saying he was “a continuing threat to public welfare,” according to the Chronicle.
Sheikh’s defense lawyer, Stanley Schneider, asked the jurors to have mercy on Sheikh.
“The dreams of a man, the childhood dream to become a doctor, were shattered by his conduct. He destroyed his own dreams,” Schneider said. “What he has done to himself and his family is punishment. They are serving his sentence with him. His children are serving his sentence with him."
Dane Schiller, a spokesman for District Attorney Kim Ogg, said the prosecutor’s office respects the outcome, according to the Houston Chronicle.
“After being presented all the evidence, the jury convicted this man of rape and decided that he should be sentenced to 10 years of probation,” Schiller said. “The jury voted on behalf of the community to determine his sentence, and although prosecutors sought prison time, we respect this process, and the jury’s decision, which carries with it a lifetime of registering as a sex offender.”
[Photo: Houston Police Department]