The prosecutor in the case of a doctor charged with sexually abusing young patients argued Thursday that he should be allowed to tell jurors about eight other uncharged incidents involving both boys and girls at about around the same time.
Lawyers for Dr. David C. Plache resisted that effort and stated that they will try to show the allegations are completely fictitious, not merely misinterpretations of what happened during Plache's examinations of the three boys.
Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza reserved decision on the issue, along with previous defense motions seeking a reduction in the number of charges and separate trials on the allegations of each accuser.
"We absolutely deny them and will prove at the trial that they did not occur, not that they occurred and there's some innocent explanation for them," said Vincent E. Doyle III, the defense co-counsel.
A 28-count indictment accuses Plache, 49, of Buffalo, a pediatric endocrinologist, of molesting the boys last year in his leased office at Niaga
ra Falls Memorial Medical Center. All but two of the charges are misdemeanors.
When the case goes to trial next year -- it was scheduled for Jan. 14, but a postponement is likely because of a scheduling conflict with a murder trial -- Assistant District Attorney Robert A. Zucco says he wants to introduce evidence that Plache had encounters with six other boys and two girls from February 2005 to August 2006.
Affidavits from the children or their parents, Zucco says, describe conduct "some of which could be characterized as strikingly similar to the conduct described in the indictment."
Zucco said he didn't seek indictments in the eight cases for various reasons. Three occurred outside Niagara County, and most were brief, compared with the longer series of molestations alleged by the three boys whose accounts formed the basis for the indictment.
The affidavits allege seven of the incidents occurred during medical exams and the eighth at a social gathering where Plache wrestled with the son of a woman with whom he was attempting to start a relationship.
The woman said Plache touched her son's groin but didn't know if it was intentional.
"Touching of a young child in a social setting, showing, I submit, an unhealthy interest in a child . . . establishes this is being done for sexual gratification," Zucco said. "When he does it outside the doctor's office, that gives us a window into his true state of mind."
Doyle said the use at the trial of uncharged "bad acts" would be prejudicial to Plache and generally is barred in U.S. courts. "It is a presumption that distinguishes us from a lot of other legal systems in the world," he said.
But Zucco said the courts have created an exception "in cases where the conduct is ambiguous and the jury will be called upon to determine intent."
Doyle, however, argued that "the acts indicted are so unequivocally criminal that bad act evidence would be unnecessary." He said the things Plache is accused of doing lack any medical purpose.
"We have evidence we believe would convince a jury those allegations were made up," Doyle said.