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Thirteen more women accuse doctor of misconduct

BRADENTON — Bradenton Police re-arrested a medical doctor Wednesday after more women came forward making allegations of misconduct during their medical examinations.

Dr. Gangadhararao Chapalamadugu, known to his patients as C.G. Rao, was arrested at his office on charges of battery after he allegedly molested four women during physical exams, according to the arrest warrants.

Mark Lipinski, a criminal defense attorney representing Rao, said his client maintains his innocence against the charges. Lipinski did not comment further.

Rao, 61, specializes in internal medicine and pulmonary disease. His office is located at Riverside Medical Center, 300 Riverside Drive E.

As many as 13 women have contacted detectives after a 45-year-old female patient came forward and reported a May 8 incident where Rao allegedly groped and placed his mouth on her chest, according to police.

Detectives planted audio and video devices on the latest victim when she went for a check-up. She confronted Rao about the misconduct and he apologized. He was later arrested.

After a story ran in the Bradenton Herald, four more women made reports with police alleging Rao groped their breasts and in some cases massaged their buttocks during an exam over the past few months, according to arrest warrants.

One woman told police she left the exam room in tears.

Bradenton Police Deputy Chief William Tokajer said detectives are investigating the information from the other calls and additional charges are expected against Rao.

“We’re expecting more calls and more victims,” he said.

One of the 13 women who contacted authorities reported a “strong case” of lewd and lascivious behavior by Rao in 1987, Tokajer said.

However, Rao will never be arrested on that charge because too much time has passed, according to the statute of limitations, Tokajer said.

Many women waited in coming forward until the latest case was published in the newspaper.

“We don’t know why he picked them. The women themselves don’t know each other per se. The description of the incidents are similar, almost mirroring each other,” Tokajer said. “Incidents like these go unreported a good portion of the time because victims are embarrassed by the actions taken against them.”

Charges cannot be brought against someone if it’s been more than three years, according to authorities.

Tokajer encouraged victims to come forward regardless.

“I think it’s something the judge can take into account in a sentencing phase as a mitigating factor,” he said when Rao faces the other charges.

The latest victim said Rao placed his mouth on her breast during her exam.

In a recent telephone interview, she said, “I hope it never happens to anyone else again. Hopefully, it’s enough to get his practice taken away. He shouldn’t have a license and risk doing that to anyone else.”

No female staff member was in the room during the exam, the woman told police.

This isn’t the first time a female patient has reported Rao. In August 2002, another woman came forward stating Rao placed his mouth on her breasts during an exam. In that case, the State Attorney’s Office deferred prosecution and made an agreement for Rao to have a pre-trial intervention program because he had no previous criminal history.

Rao completed the program, which included 50 hours of community service, avoiding contact with the woman, and undergoing a psychiatric evaluation.

He was also told to keep a female staff member inside the exam room while on probation, according to the agreement.

Rao had a 90-day probation period, according to the agreement.

Rao has no record of discipline on file, according to the Florida Department of Health Web site.

The Florida Department of Health investigates sexual misconduct cases and determines whether or not doctors’ licenses should be revoked.

Eulinda Smith, spokeswoman for the Department of Health, said investigations are opened when patients submit a complaint to their office. Each complaint is looked at on a case by case basis, she said.

“We take all complaints seriously. ... We need people to say, ‘This is what happened to us,’” she said.

Once a complaint is filed, it goes before a board and attorneys are consulted, she said.

If doctors face criminal charges, they are expected to self-report their convictions to the department, she said. Rao was last arrested May 22 on a battery charge and posted a $750 bond over the weekend. His office was open this week.

Rao will have a bond set at his first appearance before a judge today.

To file a complaint with the Florida Department of Health, call (888) 419-3456 or go online to download a complaint form at http://www.doh.state.fl.us/mqa/enforcement/enforce_csu.html. Anyone with any information can contact Bradenton Police Department Detective Alex Ribachuk at 932-9309 or remain anonymous by calling Crimestoppers at (866) 634-TIPS (8477).

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