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Judge tosses sex-related charges against LI surgeon

Surgical oncologist Dwight De Risi with patients after

Surgical oncologist Dwight De Risi with patients after his court appearance in Hempstead on Feb. 1. Photo Credit: Newsday/Bridget Murphy

A judge dismissed sex-related charges against a Great Neck surgical oncologist Friday, nearly a year after a patient accused the doctor of kissing and touching her inappropriately after performing a medical procedure.

Nassau District Court Judge Valerie Alexander’s decision followed her January ruling that police had no probable cause to arrest Dr. Dwight De Risi, 71, of Locust Valley.

The judge found Friday that the accusations against De Risi fell short.

Alexander wrote there was “no inference that may be drawn from the allegations that the touching was done for the purpose of sexual gratification or degradation.”

She added that "the only reasonable inference that can be drawn from these circumstances is that, seeing the complainant in pain, the defendant sought to comfort” her.

John Carman, one of the physician’s attorneys, said in a statement that the defense team was “grateful for the court’s well-reasoned decision which returns Dr. De Risi to his patients and restores his good name.”

Attorney Joseph Conway, who also represented the doctor, added that De Risi “feels vindicated,” saying: “He really put his faith in the system. But he’s relieved that it’s over.”

However, Nassau District Attorney's Office spokesman Brendan Brosh said prosecutors are reviewing their appellate options.

"We prosecuted this case because we found the victim credible, and we strongly disagree with the judge’s decision," he added.

Police charged De Risi with misdemeanor counts of sex abuse and forcible touching last June, accusing him of kissing a patient on the mouth, rubbing her inner leg and stomach and telling her “you did good” after a painful medical procedure he did with a nurse in the room.

De Risi later reportedly told police that he is Italian, hugs and kisses all his patients and that no one else had complained about it in 37 years.

Records also show the patient said in her deposition that De Risi was performing an aspiration on her left breast that day and could tell she was in pain.

She told police that toward the end, she nervously asked if he was finished and opened her eyes because she felt something touching her face.

Then De Risi kissed her on her lips, saying, “You did good,” the patient’s deposition said.

She also told police that she then turned her face, before a female nurse looked away and De Risi began rubbing her stomach and leg and saying that she “did good.”

The patient later asked police to arrest De Risi, saying she didn’t give him permission to kiss her on her lips, according to her deposition.

The judge noted in her decision Friday that the patient never specified what part of her leg the doctor allegedly touched, though a detective had said it was her upper leg — which she found to be hearsay.

The judge previously criticized the police investigation, comparing it to a “fishing expedition.” She said police arrested the surgeon “in the dead of night” at his home, “denying him the opportunity to contact an attorney or to be apprised of the charges against him.”

Alexander also wrote Friday she had reached “no conclusion as to the appropriateness of the defendant’s alleged conduct,” but found there wasn’t sufficient evidence showing he had criminal intent.

De Risi is one of the founders of a nonprofit support network for breast cancer patients. As his case was pending, some of his patients came with him to court and publicly defended him.

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