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Head physician from German hospital in court over rape allegations

The trial of a doctor who allegedly sexually assaulted unconscious female patients has begun in the city of Bamberg. The former surgeon is said to have attacked at least 2 coworkers in addition to the 10 patients.

A former head physician at a hospital in Bamberg, Bavaria, went on trial Tuesday for allegedly drugging and raping patients. The prosecutors accuse the 49-year-old specialist in vascular surgery of sexually assaulting ten patients and two colleagues between 2008 and July of last year.

According to the prosecution, under the pretense of performing tests for a study, Dr. Heinz W. would give his victims anesthesia and then assault them while they were unconscious. His alleged victims were between the ages of 17 and 28. He is also said to have taken videos and thousands of photographs.

The supposed crimes were brought to light by a medical student who was doing an internship at the clinic in Bamberg. She said the doctor told her he was injecting her with a contrast agent, used to enhance the visibility of blood vessels in medical imaging. What he gave her instead, prosecuting lawyers have argued, was a strong sedative, making her unable to remember the incident. It was only after she felt unwell and went to a different hospital that it was discovered she had been assaulted.

The surgeon denies the accusations, which carry a penalty of up to 15 years in prison. According to his defenders, the incidents have a medical explanation and were not sexually motivated.

es/jil (AFP, dpa)

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