Chicago Sun-Times
July 4, 2014
Sex assault allegations prompt suspension of doctor’s license;
State’s attorney’s office, Waukegan police review the case for criminal charges
By Ruth Fuller

Anil RamachandranProsecutors said they have not yet decided whether they will criminally charge a Libertyville psychiatrist who has been sued civilly for two alleged cases of sexual assault, one of which occurred in November and resulted in his DNA being found inside a woman’s body.

Waukegan police and the Lake County State’s Attorney’s office are investigating the complaints against Dr. Anil Ramachandran, whose license to practice medicine in Illinois was suspended April 18.

The allegations describe a complex conspiracy in which Ramachandran allegedly assaulted two female patients, then coerced one to incriminate the other after she reported her assault to police.

Lake County State’s Attorney Mike Nerheim said his office is “screening the case” of the woman who filed the report, and a decision has not been made about whether to file criminal charges. He said his office is awaiting several more documents needed to make the decision, which he expects will be received shortly.

“We have asked police to do some follow-up investigating,” Nerheim said. “Once that is complete, we will review it.”

A woman who answered the phone at Ramachandran’s Mundelein office said “he is taking some time off.” She said she would get a message to him, but he did not return a call for comment.

According to the suspension order by the State of Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Ramachandran started providing psychiatric treatment to a patient, identified as “S.B.,” on Oct. 9, 2013, at his private practice, called Mind Aligned, 201 E. Park St. in Mundelein.

Prior to that visit, he had been treating S.B. at the Lake County Health Department, where he worked from January 2012 to January 2013.

S.B. was being treated for multiple sclerosis, opiate dependence, depressive disorder, bulimia nervosa, alcohol/cocaine abuse, chronic pain syndrome and severe borderline personality disorder, the order said. She also had a history of emotional, physical and sexual abuse.

According to the report, Ramachandran noted in the patient’s chart that “[s]trict boundary setting will have to be enforced, idealizing and erotomaniac transference (Repeated compliments about her liking for Indian men, and my hair cut and my suit and my tie etc., is significant, and raises my suspicion of a erotomaniac transference.”

Also, in her chart, on Oct. 17, 2013, Ramachandran noted that S.B. would be willing to do sexual favors if [Ramachandran] were to prescribe opiates, according to the report.

“I said I will call police if she tries to lay a hand on me,” Ramachandran noted. “[Patient] became frantic and begged me not to do so. I stressed that boundary violations will not be tolerated.”

Alleged sexual assault

On Nov. 5, 2013, Ramachandran allegedly went to S.B.’s Waukegan home to give her a prescription for a controlled substance. The alleged sexual assault took place during the visit, according to the state’s suspension order.

“[Ramachandran] knew and/or should have known that he was required to set and maintain strict boundaries with patient S.B. due to patient S.B.’s documented behavior during her office visits with [Ramachandran],” said Laura Forester, chief of medical complaints, in the complaint against Ramachandran to suspend his license.

The report goes on to describe a scenario in which the woman, who has been diagnosed as being mentally, physically and emotionally troubled, had “doctor shopped” and previously offered to trade sexual favors in exchange for prescription medications. It also alleges sexual assault, during which Ramachandran was said to have pushed the woman — who uses a cane to walk — face-down on her bed, removed her diaper and assaulted her.

The investigation

According to Waukegan Deputy Police Chief Mark Stevenson, S.B. called police about 9:30 a.m. and reported the incident after Ramachandran left.

An officer went to her home and took a report. At Vista Medical Center East, according to the report, a sexual assault kit was completed.

“The investigation is just about concluded,” said Stevenson, adding that he cannot reveal more details until it is complete. “We are awaiting the results of the state’s attorney’s decision on charges.”

According to the suspension report, the kit was submitted to the Northern Illinois Crime Lab for analysis, and a DNA profile was taken from semen found inside of the victim. That sample allegedly matched a DNA profile obtained from Ramachandran, the report states.

On March 31, in a sworn affidavit, Dr. Brian Zachariah, the chief medical coordinator of the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, said that the continued practice of medicine by Ramachandran “presents an immediate danger to the safety of the public in the State of Illinois.”

The suits

The second woman in the case was identified in a civil suit filed on April 9 as “Jennifer Doe.” She settled her suit with Ramachandran, in which she alleged that he “forced her to perform a [sex act] in his office after hours,” said her attorney, Jeffrey Deutschman.

Jennifer Doe did not go to police, Deutschman said.

Deutschman also represents S.B., the victim described in the state report. He filed a second civil suit against Ramachandran on her behalf, seeking $50,000 in damages. That four-count complaint, which refers to S.B. as “Sandy Doe,” alleges a gender violence act, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and a civil conspiracy action.

“I don’t think you can have consensual sex with your patient,” said Deutschman, noting that he believes consent will be Ramachandran’s defense. “Why would he go to her house? He raped her.”

That civil suit also alleges a civil conspiracy action; S.B. claims that in February, Ramachandran, his attorney David Weinstein of Waukegan and Terrence Ziemann, a private investigator and process server, pressured Jennifer Doe to plant drugs on S.B. Ramachandran repeatedly called and texted Jennifer Doe, using intimidation and threats of revealing the sexual act that he had forced her to perform on him, to follow through with his plan to “eventually discredit and eventually arrest [S.B.],” according to the complaint.

Ramachandran told Jennifer Doe to contact Weinstein — whose name, address and phone number he gave to her — when she had completed the task.

“Why would that be necessary if he didn’t know about it?” Deutschman asked.

Ziemann would help her with the plot, and the patient needed to return his phone calls to her, the complaint states.

Instead of following through with the plot, Jennifer Doe ­— who was hospitalized due to the stress that the alleged threats caused her — contacted S.B. about the plot, who underwent a “tremendous amount of mental and emotional stress and exacerbated her other medical conditions,” causing her to seek medical attention and incur expenses, according to the complaint.

Victim as witness

S.B.’s mental and physical condition should be taken into account when considering legal charges, said Michelle Oberman, a former law professor at DePaul University who has written numerous articles on issues surrounding coerced sex and the law, including rape and statutory rape. She is now a professor of law at Santa Clara University School of Law.

“Illinois law protects those who are particularly susceptible to coercion in sexual encounters, such as minors and those who are physically or mentally disabled,” Oberman said. “(Her) case smacks of coercion.

“As always, prosecutors exercise discretion in deciding which cases merit prosecution, and they may take into consideration whether a victim’s story will be believed,” Oberman continued. “(Her) condition might make her a fragile witness, but it also quite plainly made her an easy victim.”

Calls to Weinstein, Ziemann and Ramachandran’s office were not returned.

In an unrelated incident, Ramachandran was cited for DUI on June 4, after he was pulled over for alleged illegal lane use about 4 a.m. at O’Plaine Road and Towne Trail in unincorporated Libertyville. He refused to submit to a Breathalyzer test, so in accordance with Illinois law, his license was automatically suspended.

In court Wednesday for the DUI case, Ramachandran’s attorney entered a request for a hearing related to the suspension of his license. No plea was entered and his next court date is July 16.

Anil Ramachandran