The case against Hollister anesthesiologist Annamalai Ashokan, 65, is in the pre-trial conference stage and is proceeding with a single charge of misdemeanor sexual battery, according to Butte County Deputy District Attorney Mathew Taylor.
Taylor told BenitoLink on June 13 that following a California Department of Justice investigation, an administrative law judge temporarily suspended Ashokan’s California medical license on June 5, which prohibits him from practicing medicine in the state. He said the California Medical Board would have to determine if Ashokan’s license might eventually be restored.
“We’re still in the discovery phase with the defense,” Taylor said. “They’re requesting documents and engaging in their own defense to defend the case.”
Taylor said the case against Ashokan is “solid” and that it has a good chance of going to trial, but he foresees the possibility of a plea bargain.
“The defendant has a right to a jury trial,” he said. “We have strong evidence, but I think we might be able to get a plea of guilty or no contest to sexual battery prior to a trial. He would be subject to a year in jail if convicted, then placed on probation.”
In March, Taylor told BenitoLink, “We were considering a felony, but the way the statutes are written for felony sexual battery the conduct that we’re dealing with here falls right outside of those definitions.”
Chico police arrested Ashokan on Jan. 30 on suspicion of felony sexual assault at his practice in Chico after one of his patients filed an allegation that he assaulted her on April 6, 2018. A felony charge was filed against him on March 18, but was reduced to a misdemeanor on April 6. Ashokan was released on $25,000 bail. Since then, he has appeared for two predisposition hearings on April 11 and April 18.
Back in June 2000, Ashokan admitted no contest in San Benito County Superior Court and was disciplined for sexual misconduct, as well as gross negligence, dishonest and corrupt acts, and criminal conviction related to duties of a physician.
As of June 13, Ashokan was still listed on the Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital website as an affiliated doctor. He also remains listed as a physician at Orchard Hospital in Gridley, north of Sacramento.
Frankie Gallagher, director of marketing and community relations at Hazel Hawkins, told BenitoLink, “Any suspension by the Medical Board constitutes an automatic and voluntary relinquishment of privileges and membership to our medical staff as of the date such action occurs. His profile is also being removed from our website.”
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