Dr. Shafeeq Sheikh, 46, convicted of raping a heavily-sedated patient in 2013 was spared time in jail. He will instead spend 10 years of probation. Jurors convicted the Indian American, a former physician at the Baylor College of Medicine, of second-degree sexual assault after a trial that ended this past week.The crime is punishable by up 20 years in prison, but the Texas jury sentenced Sheikh to 10 years of probation on Friday.
The 32-year-old female patient, identified as “Laura,” was at Ben Taub Hospital after an acute asthma attack. Laura claimed that Sheikh — who was not even assigned to her case — touched her breasts in a manner she described as a sexual assault. She added that she was heavily sedated in multiple visits. She was in the hospital overnight and sedated when the convict came to her room several times during the night and sexually assaulted her. The woman claimed that she attempted to get help from a nurse, but the call button would not work.
“He sought her out. He chose her to prey on,” said Assistant District Attorney Lauren Reeder. “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.”
Even though DNA evidence matched the DNA sample of the guilty doctor’s cheek swab, it took two years for charges to be filed against Sheikh. Surveillance video captured on the floor where the woman’s room was located also showed Sheik being on the same floor as the victim. He used his badge to swipe onto her floor at least 12 times that night.
Sheikh was working at Houston Methodist Hospital before his arrest in 2015. He confirmed that he had sex with his patient but maintained that the act was consensual. Sheik’s lawyer argued that Laura seduced him, and said: “The dreams of a man, the childhood dream to become a doctor, were shattered by his conduct. He destroyed his own dreams. 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.”
The Texas Medical Board has since revoked Sheikh’s license to practice, declaring that he posed “a continuing threat to public welfare.” But the the sentence the sex offender has to serve has sparked outrage on social media.
Sheikh will register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. But his victim believes that there are other victims, and said: “Of course, yes, and the reason I think so is because this person had everything very organized. He abuses his authority, uses his power, easily enters and without thinking twice takes control over someone who is sick.”
In asking other victims to come forward, she added: “I want us to value the life of a woman and understand that a rape doesn’t have social status. I want to inspire and motivate these woman to find the courage to talk and speak up to get out of the pain they’re in.”
The Texas Medical Board revoked his license in 2015 after they found he was a “continuing threat to public welfare.”
Sheikh will return to court in December.