A gynecologist accused of raping patients did have sexual relations with two women in his practice but the relationships were consensual, his attorney said Monday at the opening of his trial.
Charles Momah is also the target of a number of civil lawsuits that accuse him and his twin brother, Dennis Momah, of impersonating one another in his medical practice. Dennis Momah is not credentialed, although he examined and even operated on patients, according to the lawsuits.
In the current case on trial in King County Superior Court, Charles Momah is charged with rape and indecent liberties.
In opening statements, attorney David Allen told jurors his client has been accused by women with dubious credibility, including a self-confessed drug addict and a woman with theft convictions. In addition, several of the women accusing him have filed civil suits against the physician and are motivated by a possible financial settlement, Allen said.
“I hope you understand there is much more here than the state is saying,” Allen told jurors.
He conceded, however, that the physician should not have had sexual relations with any patient.
“There will be no question in this case that Dr. Momah used bad judgment in his relationships,” Allen said.
The attorney denied that Momah ever took improper sexual liberties with any other patients under his care.
Preying on vulnerable women
Prosecutor Scott Fogg painted a graphic portrait of a physician who sexually preyed on vulnerable, desperate women, many of whom had few other places to get gynecological care or were addicted to drugs.
“Trust is a fragile thing, yet all can give it blindly,” Fogg said. “For instance, we trust our doctors ... will work to cure us, to heal us.”
But Momah exploited that trust to the point he actually raped a patient on his examination table and sexually fondled another while she was in extreme pain, Fogg said.
Momah operated practices in the suburban cities of Federal Way and Burien, south of Seattle. The state Board of Health suspended his license in September 2003, after one patient, a top witness in his current criminal trial, reported that he raped her. If convicted, he faces up to 16 years in prison.