New York gastroenterologist charged with 50 more counts for assaulting patients

New York City-based gastroenterologist Zhi Alan Cheng, MD, has been charged with 50 new counts in criminal court for drugging and sexually assaulting several women, including a patient, The New York Times reported Aug. 7. 

Dr. Cheng, who was employed by New York City-based NewYork-Presbyterian Queens from July 2020 to December 2022, was arrested in December after his girlfriend discovered videos of him allegedly drugging and assaulting her, according to the report. The police then found devices with other recordings at his home. 

At least five other women were allegedly assaulted at hotel rooms, at homes or at the hospital by Dr. Cheng, according to the report. 

On Dec. 30, Dr. Cheng was indicted by a grand jury and charged with rape, assault, unlawful surveillance and sexual abuse, among other charges.

"Prosecutors said the assaults were part of a brutal, methodical pattern in which Mr. Cheng drugged women with liquid anesthesia before attacking them," according to the Times. "Many later woke with no memory of what had happened."

Another civil suit, which names NewYork-Presbyterian, alleges Dr. Cheng assaulted a 19-year-old woman who was admitted to the emergency room with gallstone-induced abdominal pain. On June 21, 2021, two days after she was admitted, Dr. Cheng allegedly examined the victim without other staff present, performing an invasive and unnecessary rectal examination under the guise of medical treatment. He later returned to her room and allegedly gave her an injection that caused her to lose consciousness.

“As caregivers, we are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of our patients - it is a sacred trust. The crimes committed by this individual are heinous, despicable, and a fundamental betrayal of our mission and our patients’ trust," NewYork-Presbyterian spokesperson Angela Smith Karafazli said in a statement to Becker's. "We are appalled and deeply saddened by what these victims and their families have endured. In December 2022, as soon as the District Attorney made us aware of allegations of sexual abuse against this individual, he was immediately placed off duty, banned from hospital property, and terminated. We have been fully cooperating with the Queens District Attorney’s office, the NYPD, and the NYS Department of Health. We have numerous stringent patient safety policies and protocols in place and our exhaustive review of this matter included an analysis of compliance with those policies, as well as the immediate implementation of additional training for all employees. At the same time, we have been examining the full breadth of our protections to identify any opportunities for further strengthening, in line with our unwavering commitment to the highest standard of patient safety and care.”


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