Berwyn doctor charged in teen patient sex assault

February 18, 2010 7:17:11 PM PST
A west suburban pediatrician is charged with sexually assaulting a 13-year-old patient. Berwyn police say they are investigating other accusations as well.

The doctor was seeing patients Thursday after paying 10 percent of a $100,000 bond.

A grand jury indicted 63-year-old Dr. Abdulbari Akhras with numerous felony counts, including alleged criminal sexual assault of a 13-year-old patient at his office in the 6900-block of West Ogden.

Berwyn police say there could be more alleged victims as the investigation is continuing, and they have received other complaints.

Akhras was taken into custody in January and was just indicted Tuesday. The office could be open until the Illinois Department of Professional Regulations holds a special hearing to decide whether to revoke his license.

Dr. Akhras did not speak with ABC7 but without prompting, long-term patients offered their thoughts.

"He is hanging in there. He has a lot of strength and his head is in the right place. I know him and I trust him," said Linda Comadena of Burr Ridge.

Many patients appeared to feel the same way about Dr. Akhras, a 63 year-old dual US-Syrian citizen. The Illinois Office for Professional Regulation said he has never been the subject of a professional complaint since getting his medical license in 1974.

A member of his staff said adults must always accompany minors in patient examination rooms, something many patients echoed.

"I'm always with my kids when Dr. Akhras is there. And like I said he has treated me alone by myself and he's never touched me the wrong way," said Ollzy Munoz of Cicero. "But as a doctor and a professional, he is the best."

Berwyn police investigated the original allegations against the doctor and have worked agencies including US Customs and Immigration and the Cook County sheriff to bring the charges.

"My understanding is he is well-known within his medical field. Our job, when you're dealing with complaints especially with minors, is to do all we can and get as many agencies to help us whatever his standing in the community," said Dep. Supt. Joseph Drury, Berwyn Police.

"For 23 years I've been coming here, my children have been his patients for 23 years. My daughter is now going to be 30. So we moved here in 1987. I've been coming ever since and I would trust the man with my life," said Comadena.

Illinois Senator Martin Sandoval has asked state regulators to suspend Akhras' license and has introduced legislation to suspend the license of any doctor charged with a sexual or violent crime.

"It galled and shocked me to read in the paper that this was occurring in my backyard and I want to make sure this doesn't ever happen in anyone's backyard," said Sen.Martin Sandoval (D).

The Illinois Office of Professional Regulation said, while they are watching the case very closely, they will not start their own investigation unless a witness comes forward to them directly with their own complaint.

If you have any information or would like to report a complaint, call Berwyn Police at 708-795-5600.