YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: An angry judge in Hackensack this morning sentenced a fertility doctor from Englewood to seven years in prison for sexually abusing patients, after one of the victims testified that she will “never trust a doctor again.” CORRECTION: Under the terms of his plea agreement, Dr. Alfredo Garcia will serve his sentence at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel.
“You violated your oath as a physician, and you violated the law,” Superior Court Judge Edward Jerejian told Dr. Alfredo Garcia this morning, before sentencing Garcia to the maximum state prison term.
And although he must serve 85 percent of his sentence, that doesn’t mean Garcia, 68, will then go free.
As a Megan’s Law offender, he will be subject to a possible civil commitment the medium-security Avenel facility for an indefinite period of time.
Garcia was arrested in 2009 after a patient went to authorities. Others from his practices in Hackensack and Clifton came forward afterward.
One of them told Jerejian this morning that she still lives with “the guilt of not acting.
“I have flashbacks,” she testified. “I doubt myself. Maybe I should have done this or that.
“You feel so guilty, so lonely. I changed gynecologists and now only will see a woman,” she added. “I feel no mercy — I have to live with this the rest of my life. I will never trust a doctor again.”
Today’s sentence stemmed from a deal Garcia accepted from prosecutors in which he pleaded to one count of sexual assault and eight counts of sexual contact. In turn, additional charges were dropped.
And although defense attorney Raymond Flood asked for house arrest, Jerejian wasn’t buying it.
“Dr. Garcia, the women came to you in a vulnerable situation. They wanted children; they were hoping and praying to have children,” the judge said. “They put their faith in you, and instead you sexually assaulted them.”
Besides the victim’s testimony, the judge heard sworn statements from several others, along with details from Garcia’s interviews with sex crimes specialists at Avenel.
Senior Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Kenneth Ralph countered Flood’s request with explicit details of the doctor’s admissions of sex crimes throughout his practice.
“He is a repetitive and compulsive sex offender,” Ralph said. “He acted under compulsion he could not control. He was treated by a psychologist, but it did not help.”
The state Medical Board disciplined Garcia twice before for similar conduct stretching back to 1985, but it continued, Ralph said.
Garcia, the former medical director of Tower Fertility Center, told specialists that it was “the secret nature” of his actions that aroused him, Ralph said.
He boasted of being able to “disguise” what he was doing, even in the presence of a nurse, the prosecutor told Jerejian.
Flood said Garcia was “too nervous and too embarrassed to speak on his own behalf” and has been suffering from depression since the investigation began.
Besides losing his medical practice, the defense attorney said, Garcia’s wife died.
His life “has been shattered by what he has done,” Flood said. “He accepts responsibility. What he did is wrong and unacceptable, and he is ashamed of what he has done.”
(CLIFFVIEW PILOT PHOTO, STORY: Mary K. Miraglia)
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