Several news articles this week have reported on Dr. Shafeeq Sheikh, a former Houston doctor who surprisingly received no prison time after sexually assaulting a hospitalized patient. Instead, the former doc had his medical license and a $10,000 fine suspended. He received 10 years probation and a lifetime on the registry.
Some guys have all the luck!
The outcome of this trial makes me angry and yet I’m not sure who I’m angry at. Who’s to blame, the offender, the sentencing judge, the jury, our laws in general?
A rape and he gets no prison time, no monetary fine. Sure, he loses his livelyhood temporarily and is on the registry for life, but there are so many registrants that have done far less and received far greater punishments.
How unfair and biased are our sex offense laws?
This man’s conviction came after a jury trial. His lawyer asked the jury to have mercy on him. He had a wife, children, no prior felonies. His dreams of being a doctor were now destroyed because of one poor decision on his part.
The same could be said of so many registrants that are currently spending long mandatory minimum sentences behind bars.
What about their wives, their children? What about the fact that they’ve never been in trouble before? Where’s their MERCY?
While the former doctor is on probation he has the opportunity to find some kind of employment, to make a living, to put money in the bank. He has the ability to continue to live with all the creature comforts of home. He gets to kiss his wife and hug his children everyday.
Not so for so many other registrants.
It will be years before some registrants walk out from behind those clanging prison doors. Many will have the huge financial burden of “fines and restitution” doled out at sentencing, hanging over their heads. Finding employment that pays enough to live on and to pay those fines won’t be easy. It may be years before some can work their way out of that trench. In the mean time, family and friends may have scattered during those lost years behind bars. Resuming something that resembles a normal life may take a while.
And yet, a former physician, someone society is supposed to be able to trust, carries out a violent offense and gets what I consider a “slap on the hand” kind of sentence.
Did his title “DOCTOR” have anything to do with the jury’s leniency? Did those 12 jurors believe in their hearts that because this man was a DOCTOR that his offense deserved a lesser sentence than say a blue-collar sex offender? Was he somehow seen as “better” than other sex offenders and therefore more deserving of less punishment? Was the jury’s concern for this physician’s wife and children greater than it would have been had he been a postman or a restaurant server or a trash collector or a teacher? Or are our laws just so muddled that judges have no choice but to choose from a defined list of punishments regardless of whether or not they fit the particular crime?
How can our sentencing laws be so unjust?
If you read any of the articles about this incident, it clearly appears to have been a violent crime. The patient’s account is that while she was sedated and tethered to machines, the doctor sexually assaulted her numerous times. The doctor’s account is a bit different claiming it was consensual sex.
It took two years and DNA swab testing for authorities to nab the doctor.
So, how is he free (yes, he’s on probation and on the registry which means he’s only pseudo-free) and everyone else’s loved ones are wasting their lives in prison?
That’s what makes me angry.
Of course I’m happy for his wife and children. They have a husband and father at home. Their lives will all change with the registry, but still, their family is together.
Other registrants are not as fortunate.
Our laws don’t apply to everyone equally.