TODAY'S PAPER
72° Good Afternoon
72° Good Afternoon
Long IslandNassau

DA: Pediatrician sexually abused patients

Bethpage pediatrician Rakesh Punn was indicted on charges

Bethpage pediatrician Rakesh Punn was indicted on charges that he sexually abused and videotaped his patients, one as young as 11, prosecutors said. He was jailed on pornography and other charges in July of 2010. (July 16, 2010) Photo Credit: Handout

A once-revered Bethpage pediatrician has been indicted on charges that he drugged and sexually abused at least seven of his patients -- some as young as 11 -- under the guise of medical examinations.

Dr. Rakesh Punn, 53, of Bethpage, has been in jail since last July, when he was arrested after prosecutors said he secretly videotaped his naked patients with a camera set up in his examination room.

However, in the year since his arrest, prosecutors say an investigation has shed light on how, dating back to 2007, Punn committed more serious crimes, abusing and manipulating his patients while maintaining a reputation as a beloved doctor.

Prosecutors said Punn drugged many of the young girls before photographing or videotaping his sexual contact with them, sometimes while their parents waited outside, Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice said. Of the seven known victims, five were minors, a Rice spokesman said.

He tricked some patients into signing "contracts" that said that they were willing to perform numerous sexual acts on him, even though they had no idea what they were signing because part of the contract was hidden, Rice said.

"This is one of the most egregious violations of trust I have ever encountered," Rice said Wednesday, adding that many of Punn's victims were not aware they were violated because they were drugged.

Punn's lawyer, Nicholas Marino of Hicksville, could not be reached yesterday.

Punn had been charged with promoting sexual performance by a child, possession of a sexual performance of a child, unlawful surveillance and possession of a forged international driver's license. He was being held on $1.5 million bond.

Two girls in the videos still have not been identified, Rice said. She asked anyone who believes they might have been a victim of Punn to contact police at 516-573-7960.

The 60-count grand jury indictment, handed up Tuesday, contains numerous new charges, including 28 counts of second-degree assault, 10 counts of first-degree sexual abuse, three counts of promoting a sexual performance by a child and six counts of second-degree unlawful surveillance.

Punn, who faces up to 7 years in prison on each of the 28 assault charges if convicted, is scheduled to be arraigned on July 11.

Punn was so respected locally, Rice said, that the parents of one victim did not question it when he delivered her unconscious child to the waiting room after what was supposed to be a routine exam.

Rice said it was a tip that first brought Punn's behavior to her office's attention.

She said Punn even duped some patients into filling prescriptions for chloral hydrate, the drug that he used as a sedative on his victims.

Investigators who searched Punn's office found three bottles of chloral hydrate, with prescription labels in patients' names, prosecutors said.

Latest Long Island News