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Muttontown doctor acquitted in 'Flush the Johns' case

Doctor Richard Obedian, 46, of Muttontown was acquitted

Doctor Richard Obedian, 46, of Muttontown was acquitted of patronizing a prostitute. Credit: Nassau County District Attorney

A Muttontown doctor who was among the 104 men swept up in the "Flush the Johns" sting last year has been acquitted of patronizing a prostitute, and his attorney is considering suing Nassau County.

Richard Obedian, 46, was acquitted of the misdemeanor charge on Aug. 13 following a three-day, nonjury trial before Judge Rhonda Fischer in First District Court in Hempstead, prosecutors and the defense attorney said Friday.

Obedian, an orthopedic surgeon, was the fifth defendant in the sting to take his case to a bench trial. Four of those trials have resulted in acquittals.

The doctor was the only defendant to continue to trial since District Attorney Kathleen Rice in July began allowing the men to plead guilty to a violation such as disorderly conduct, which is less than a misdemeanor.

Obedian's attorney, Brian Griffin of Garden City, criticized Rice Friday for announcing the arrests -- made over the previous two months -- at a news conference in June 2013 and releasing photographs of the defendants.

"Like all citizens, Dr. Obedian deserved his day in court, not a wasteful and misguided publicity stunt," Griffin said in a statement. "Thankfully, Dr. Obedian had the strength and the means to force this case to trial where he was acquitted. Although the personal and professional harm from the egregious behavior of the government cannot be undone, they will be held accountable for it in a civil court."

Griffin would not elaborate on the civil action he is contemplating.

At least one other man arrested in the sting has filed a notice of claim -- a precursor to a lawsuit -- against the county for false arrest and false imprisonment.

Asked for comment on Griffin's remarks, Rice's office said in a statement: "Patronizing a sex worker is illegal because it fuels an industry of slavery and violence against vulnerable women, and we will continue to highlight this important issue and enforce the law."

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