Anesthesiology Expert Witness Opines In Dentist Assault Case

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Allegheny County judge Anthony M. Mariani Wednesday acquitted a South Hills, PA, oral surgeon of all charges related to allegations he molested 17 female patients. Dr. Robert John Boyda was cleared of charges that he assaulted patients in his offices from 2002 through late 2007, when two patients went to police.

Anesthesiology expert Dr. Edward Dench, past president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, testified that the women's stories were consistent with dreams. He said it would be possible to wake up abruptly after being administered drugs and remember events. Once awake, however, patients would not fall unconscious again.

(Judge) Mariani said he believed the women were truthful about what they thought happened. But the judge said he found compelling the testimony of defense experts who said the women could not have remembered anything because of drugs used to anesthetize them — and the fact that the drugs can cause sexual hallucinations.

"Across the street in civil division, my verdict might be different, but I must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt," he said. In a civil trial, the burden of proof is a preponderance of the evidence, a lesser standard.

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