Queens doctor charged with sexually assaulting patients

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By Dan Sears

A Queens doctor previously charged with raping a woman in his apartment was arraigned Monday on a new 50-count indictment charging him with sexually abusing three patients inside a hospital, and raping three other women in his home, the Queens District Attorney’s Office said.

Former NewYork-Presbyterian Queens Doctor Zhi Alan Cheng was first arrested in December 2022 and charged in an 11-count indictment accusing him of drugging and raping a woman he knew at his Queens home, according to prosecutors.

Following the original charges, a search of his home led the Queens District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau to a disturbing discovery — hard drives with videos of Cheng sexually assaulting unconscious female patients at the hospital he worked at, as well as other women in his home, authorities said. They also found narcotics including fentanyl, ketamine, cocaine, LSD and MDMA, as well as drugs used in health care settings for sedation, such as propofol and sevoflurane, prosecutors said.

“The recovered evidence compiled paints the picture of a sexual predator of the absolute worst kind, a serial rapist, someone willing to not only violate his sacred professional oath and patients’ trust, but every standard of human decency, as well,” said Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz. “We will present the facts to a jury and achieve justice for the victims of the horrific assaults captured on video.”

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Cheng pleaded not guilty on Monday. Jeffrey Lichtman, Esq., an attorney for Cheng, said his representatives had not yet reviewed the case with him.

“We recognize that the charges are incredibly serious, but we have not yet had a chance to review the evidence with our client and, therefore, aren’t capable of discussing the case yet,” Lichtman said in a statement provided to Gothamist.

The victims identified so far range in age from 19 to 47 years old, according to prosecutors. Several were described as not having any recollection of the events.

Earlier this year, one of Cheng’s former patients filed a lawsuit against NewYork-Presbyterian accusing the hospital system of conspiring to cover-up the assault.

The investigation is ongoing. If convicted, Cheng faces multiple 25-years-to-life sentences.

New-York Presbyterian spokesperson Angela Smith Karafazli said the hospital is fully cooperating with the district attorney, the NYPD and the state Department of Health. She added that the hospital system has “numerous stringent patient safety policies and protocols in place” and the hospital was performing an “exhaustive review” of the matter, as well as implementing additional training for staff.

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“We are appalled and deeply saddened by what these victims and their families have endured,” Karafazli said.

Cheng is not the first doctor in the NewYork-Presbyterian hospital system accused of such behavior. In April, former urologist Darius Paduch was accused of sexually abusing his patients in federal charges. Paduch worked at New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Last month, former NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital gynecologist Robert Hadden was sentenced to 20 years in prison and a lifetime of post-release supervision, for four counts of encouraging patients to cross state lines so he could sexually assault them at their appointments.

On Monday Katz urged women who think they may have been victimized to contact her office’s Special Victims Bureau, at (718) 286-6505, or [email protected].

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