Another felony charge has been dropped against a local doctor who was accused of sexually assaulting female patients.
Last year, Dr. Jaime Sandoval was indicted on three counts of sexual assault. On Feb. 1, one case was dismissed after attorneys reviewed the accuser’s deposition and realized she only claimed there was inappropriate behavior by the doctor — not sexual assault.
During a hearing this afternoon in the 347th District Court, the second accuser, who is from out of state, said the same thing happened in her case.
Nueces County Assistant District Attorney Angelica Hernandez told Judge Missy Medary she will refile the case as a misdemeanor.
Medary, who appeared to be frustrated, asked Hernandez and Sandoval’s attorneys, Terry Shamsie and Lisa Greenberg, whether the third case would also have to be dismissed.
Hernandez told the judge she still needs to contact the third accuser.
That comment prompted a quick retort from Shamsie.
“I can tell the judge why it happened. I can tell you,” Shamsie said. “It wasn’t the D.A.’s office. It was the detective, Mary Pena, who signed the affidavit that said penetration and that’s what they relied on.”
Medary said those facts contradicted what she had been told.
“But throughout the file, it said there was no penetration. Is that my understanding? This was taken to the grand jury. I would assume that the district attorney’s office read it cover to cover,” Judge Medary said.
“The power of the state is incredible. You cannot get more powerful than the state of Texas and the use of the subpoena power of the grand jury. This is the second dismissal now by the District Attorneys office in as much as two or three weeks. The grand jury indicted him on four different offenses.
“Three sexual and two out of three of them dismissed because of, for a lack of better words, not a thorough intake process” Medary added.
Hernandez said, “I would agree with that judge but I think there’s been changes made at the D.A’s office that have significantly remedied that problem and that part of the problem with cases being rushed through the indictment is no longer present.”
Medary opted to move forward with the pending sexual assault charge. She set Sandoval’s trial for March 25.
After this afternoon’s hearing, Greenberg said her co-counsel Shamsie was ignored by previous prosecutors in the Nueces County District Attorney’s Office.
“Mr. Shamsie talked to the prosecutors before and it fell on deaf ears,” Greenberg said. “They wouldn’t listen to him. They wouldn’t look. They wouldn’t ask the victim.
“So, what would have happened was we would’ve gone to trial. The county would have paid for a trial and they would have found out what Ms. Hernandez found out was that there was no penetration. So, she had no choice but to dismiss it. She did what the prosecutors before her should’ve done.”
Greenberg explained that without penetration, the case couldn’t be tried as a felony. She added if there is sexual touching, then the case would become a misdemeanor.
“Well, he sat in jail on felonies that should never have been felonies,” Greenberg said. ” What happened was is when we looked at the discovery, we saw that there was no penetration and so Terry Shamsie who was counsel before me went and told the prosecutor ‘these are not felonies. You are filing these as felonies.’ They are not felonies but they didn’t listen.
“So, the importance is the importance is to the community. When something is overcharged, then we all pay for it. We all pay for that trial and so if they don’t listen to him, there’s nothing the defense can do but go to trial.”
Meanwhile, Sandoval still faces charges on an aggravated assault in a separate case.