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|July 17, 2000|
Alleged sex offender doc awaits trail
Dr Param Shukla, a child psychiatrist at the Children's Hospital, Massachusetts, who has been accused of sexual abuse, now awaits the trail that will decide his fate.
Dr Shukla, 34, of Brookline has been charged on two counts -- indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14. Doubts had been raised about Shukla ever since he began his residency at the hospital.
The first incident took place in 1999, where he was accused of sexually abusing a 12-year-old patient. The victim accused Shukla of grabbing her breasts and kissing her during a counselling session. The accusations were investigated by various agencies, including the Suffolk district attorney's office, the Boston police and the Department of Social Services.
The Department of Social Services' investigation concluded that the girl has indeed been sexually abused, but did not have sufficient evidence to meet the burden of reasonable doubt. Shukla was then put on a confidential list of suspected sex offenders. The Medical Board of Registration was unable to strip Shukla of his licence since it could not legally support the allegations in a court of administrative law.
The second incident, however, supported the first and allegedly established a "continuing pattern of conduct". Shukla was accused of cyber-stalking a 14-year-old patient who he was counselling following a suicide attempt. The girl was depressed because her mother was suffering from cancer.
During counselling sessions, Shukla allegedly made sexual advances towards her. He also allegedly sought her email address and later sent her suggestive emails. The chat sessions between Shukla and the girl appear to have established that he made advances of a sexual nature.
Shukla's medical licence was suspended within 24 hours of the charges being made. His passport too has been impounded to prevent him fleeing to India.
On June 8, 2000, Shukla pleaded not guilty to three counts of indecent assault on a minor at the Roxbury district court. He was consequently held on a bail of $ 50,000. Shukla has now changed his lawyer. Earlier, Stephen Roache, a court-appointed lawyer, represented him.
Shukla is a 1990 graduate of B J Medical College, Ahmedabad, India. His residency at the Children's Hospital began on July 1, 1998.
Jim Borghesani of the Suffolk district attorney's office thinks "the victim will testify". Such a testimony could make a significant difference in this case. No date has yet been fixed for the trial.
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