A jury in in Texas has a curious notion of justice after recommending a sentence of just 10 years probation and no jail time for Shafeeq Sheikh, a former physician at Baylor College of Medicine. Sheikh raped a heavily sedated patient but will walk after a guilty verdict. It is one of the most disturbing sentences that I have seen in a decade.
Under state law, Visiting Senior District Judge Terry L. Flenniken was required to follow the recommendation.
Sheikh sexually assaulted the woman named Laura, 32, after she was admitted to the Ben Taub Hospital in 2013 after complaining of a shortness of breath and wheezing. She was sedated overnight and surveillance films show Sheikh using his badge to swipe onto her floor at least 12 times that night. The victim said that a doctor came to in the dark and began touching her breasts during a chest exam. She said that she tried to call for help but the call button was disabled.
A rape kit later retrieved his DNA. In other words, it was an open and shut case of the use of authority over a sedated person to commit aggravated rape. It is also not clear if this was the first time Sheikh committed such a heinous act. He did not come forward and only was arrested two years after the rape. He insisted it was consensual though it is help to imagine consent with a heavily sedated patient.
His lawyer argued for leniency because Sheikh is a father and his dreams to become a doctor “were shattered by his conduct.” Why is that a compelling argument since he used his power as a doctor to rape a helpless patient?
The Texas Medical Board revoked his license in 2015 after finding that Sheikh was a “continuing threat to public welfare.”
So why would a jury of five women and seven men recommend such a low sentence for a rapist who used his medical authority to assault a helpless patient? They deliberated for 14 hours but rendered a recommendation almost as shocking as the crime.