A letter from our Executive Director,
In recent weeks, media outlets across our state have reported on the case of Dr. Richard Lewis, a cardiologist, who pleaded guilty in an open Phoenix court last week to 18 counts of aggravated assault. This was the culmination of 19 sexual assault survivors bravely coming forward accusing Lewis of sexually touching, and even raping them, during routine office examinations and surgical procedures. The impression is that prosecutors earned a righteous plea from the "fondling-doctor" in addition to him forfeiting his license to practice medicine. However, Lewis was not on trial for medical malpractice; he was being tried as a sexual predator who took advantage of women who trusted him with their bodies and their lives. In fact, many of these victims were also under anesthesia, physically unable to defend themselves from his assaults. Lewis plead guilty to 18 counts of aggravated assault, a Class 6 felony, and he will not have to register as a sex offender. But, the reality is that in as little as 6 months, Lewis’s felonies can be reduced to misdemeanors after serving probation.
I know of these events firsthand as I attended the court proceedings of this case. And I, for one, was appalled by the plea agreement offered to this sexual predator. This plea agreement is an immense miscarriage of justice and a case, which I fear, that shall severely deepen the lack of trust sexual assault survivors already have in our criminal justice system.
As the Executive Director of "CEASE" -- the Coalition to End Arizona Sexual Exploitation, I work closely and daily with sexual assault survivors and help them confront the maze of complex personal, health, safety, and legal issues encountered during the aftermath of their assault. So sadly, those victimized by sexual violence frequently report feeling re-victimized when seeking justice. And now we have this judicial travesty forced upon all citizens. What are we saying to victims of sexual assault when someone in such a position of trust works the system for such a favorable deal after serially sexually assaulting so many of his own patients? A doctor can sexually assault at least 19 female patients and just walk away, only forfeiting one medical license?
I am gravely disappointed that prosecutors did not have greater faith in a jury of his peers to review all the evidence and convict this sexual predator, instead of yielding to a sweetheart deal that would not remove this sexual deviant from our streets for even one day. Since these women were deprived of justice through our court system, we all have an obligation to play a role. I am asking you to join me in respectfully urging the judge in this case to apply the maximum sentence for each count so that this defendant serves time as he deserves and his victims witness justice being served.
Sentencing is scheduled for June 14th at 1:30pm in Judge Samuel Thumma's Superior Courtroom. I must reiterate that probation is a real possibility for this sexual predator and that community input to such a light sentence is an appropriate contribution to the sentencing process. The plea agreement in this case would be such a travesty and insult to all sexual assault survivors, which would leave many victims to wonder why they even came forward to seek justice. Please show these women that you care and that you are willing to help them seek justice that our court system has denied them.
Please join us outside the courthouse on June 14th at 1:00 pm and respectfully urge the Honorable Judge Samuel Thumma to seek the maximum sentence by leaving him a message at 602-372-2018. We also ask that you share this information with others so that more individuals will join us in our fight for justice. For more information please visit our website at www.ceaseaz.org and view our Facebook page for news and future updates about this case.
By signing this petition, you are standing up for sexual assault victims everywhere and showing the world that this type of abuse will not be tolerated. If needed, you can choose to not have your name publically displayed on the petition, so please do not hesitate to sign. Be the voice of these victims and share this petition with as many people as possible.
“While there are millions of girls and women victimized everyday, our work will always be about the one. The one girl deceived, the one girl kidnapped, the one girl raped, the one girl afflicted with AIDS, the one girl needing a rescuer. To succumb to the enormity of the problem is to fail the one. And more is required of us.” -------- Sharon Cohn Wuu
Thank you for your support,