After supportive testimony from his sex offender counselor in a court hearing Wednesday, former gastroenterologist Aniruddha A-shok Chitale will be allowed to be unsupervised with his own children.
Now a lifetime registered sex offender, Chitale had pleaded guilty to two second-degree felony charges of sexual assault in 2005 relating to his work as a physician.
The cases stem from 2004 incidents involving two different female patients under his care at Ennis Regional Medical Center. The women, both adults, reported to police they were at the hospital for a medical procedure and under sedation at the time the offenses occurred.
After his conviction, Chitale entered into an agreed order with the state Board of Medical Examiners that saw the permanent revocation of his license. He and his wife each testified during Wednesday’s hearing in 40th District Court that his now limited employment options and the conditions of the 10-year probation period have created a financial and other hardships for their family.
One of the conditions was that Chitale could not be unsupervised around children, including his own. His wife testified Wednesday that difficulties have developed with the only babysitter she can afford, saying their pre-teen children are being left in the care of the babysitter’s own teen-agers. As a result, the couple’s children are exhibiting behavior problems, she said.
The Chitales also testified it is a hardship for his parental involvement that he is unable to attend school and sporting activities participated in by their children. He still won’t be allowed to do so as the prohibitions remain in place about Chitale not being allowed to go to places where children gather and against his being around any child younger than age 17 without an approved adult of at least age 21 present. The restriction has only been removed for his own three children.
As part of his monitoring, Chitale testified he has to report any proximity contact with children - which can occur if he has to go to a store - even if there is no direct contact, which he said he is careful to avoid.
Licensed professional counselor Ben Boaz, who serves as the county’s sex offender treatment provider, said Chitale has been working through the program since 2005 and is now in its last phase.
Although professional guidelines do not allow anyone to be classified as “no risk,” Boaz said he could make a recommendation that the restrictions about being around children be lifted, testifying Chitale presents no greater risk toward minors than “any other male in this room.”
A standardized assessment of Chitale indicated only a preference toward heterosexual activity with adult females, Boaz said, saying there was no indication of a sexual preference toward children or males of any age.
The assessment tool is based on 20 years of research involving risk analysis for sex offenders, Boaz said, noting also in his testimony that any restriction lifted would be monitored as part of Chitale’s treatment.
Court documents in the cases indicate Chitale’s victims were all adult females.
Under questioning from assistant district attorney Patrick Wilson, Boaz said he considered Chitale’s actions toward his victims as deviant sexual behavior that included an aspect of “complete control” the former physician found “very arousing.”
The standards of treatment “are very, very clear” about what has to happen and what goals have to be met before someone is released from the program, Boaz said, noting Chitale has made “significant progress in his treatment” but also testifying, “I think we will always have some concerns.”
In his ruling, Judge Gene Knize noted both sides had agreed to the terms of probation as part of the plea agreement.
Knize did rule Chitale could be unsupervised when with his own children, saying the restriction was “overly broad.”
All other conditions will remain in place, Knize said, noting, “Unfortunately, there is always collateral hardships caused to families.”
Although testified about, a request to cease monitoring Chitale’s computer for possible access to pornography or chat rooms was not properly requested in the paperwork presented to the court, Knize said, indicating he would have denied that request, saying he didn’t believe the $50 in monthly fees assessed Chitale represented a financial hardship.
Under the 2005 plea agreement, Chitale had pleaded guilty to the second-degree felony offense of sexual assault in two cases, agreeing to a sentence of 10 years deferred adjudication community supervision and maximum fines of $10,000 in each. He also is subjected to the requirements pertaining to sex offenders and is required to register for the rest of his life.
Chitale also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor offenses of indecent exposure and public lewdness. In exchange for his guilty plea in the two misdemeanor cases, Chitale served concurrent sentences of 180 days in jail, with his term of community supervision beginning after his release. He also was assessed maximum fines of $2,000 and $4,000, respectively, on the misdemeanor charges.
Through 2015, should Chitale violate any terms of his community supervision, he will face a possible prison sentence of up to 40 years. As a condition of the agreement, if Chitale were to see his community supervision revoked, he would not receive any credit for the 180 days served on the misdemeanor charges.
With his plea agreement, Chitale waived any right to appeal and any right to ever seek any expunction of the charges, which prosecutors have said will remain forever on his record.
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