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Another ugly twist in kidney divorce case

The case of a Nassau surgeon who is suing his estranged wife over the kidney he donated to save her life has gotten even uglier.

Pamela Rathburn-Ray, 48, a former fiancée of the doctor, Richard Batista, said in court papers filed yesterday and during a news conference that he used to threaten her and beat her during their years-long relationship in the mid-1980s.

Once, according to Rathburn-Ray, Batista was angry with her for revealing to Batista's friend that Batista had slapped her during a vacation in Puerto Rico. Batista, she said, punched her in the face and repeatedly smashed her head into the floor of her dormitory, sending her to the hospital.

"It looked like I was in the ring with a boxer," Rathburn-Ray said, describing her old injuries. "Both eyes were black and shut."

Alicia Maxey Greene, a spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau, said there are no records indicating that Batista was arrested or prosecuted.

Neither Batista nor his attorney, Dominic Barbara, of Garden City, could be reached for comment.

Batista, a vascular surgeon at Nassau University Medical Center, is demanding $1.5 million for the kidney he donated to his estranged wife, Dawnell Batista, 44, as part of the couple's divorce settlement.

Dawnell Batista's attorney had said she ended her marriage because of unspecified "violent conduct of her husband."

At the request of Dawnell Batista's attorney, a Nassau judge has ordered Rathburn-Ray to come to court Feb. 26 to testify at the Batistas' divorce trial.

Rathburn-Ray, a nurse from Miller Place, said she reached out to Dawnell Batista's attorney after she saw her former fiancé portray himself as a victim in his divorce case on television. Rathburn-Ray has hired an attorney, John Ray, of Miller Place, in part because she said she is worried Batista and his attorney will harass her when she testifies.

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