Appeals court affirms conviction of psychiatrist in sex crime case
By Derrick Knutson
May 21, 2015 at 8:01 am
The Minnesota Court of Appeals last week handed down a decision affirming the conviction of a psychiatrist who in 2011 engaged in sexual intercourse with an adult female patient in Chisago County.Levi Chen-Wah Leong, 49, formerly of St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, was initially convicted by a Chisago County jury in October 2013. After denying his motion for a new trial or acquittal, the district court sentenced him to 48 months in prison.
Leong, a licensed psychiatrist, was charged with criminal sexual conduct in the third degree for engaging in sexual penetration with a patient during a psychotherapist-patient relationship. The Court of Appeals opinion said the patient was a 23-year-old woman experiencing depression, anxiety and alcoholism.
According court documents and a synopsis of the case from Chisago County Janet Reiter:
At trial, the victim testified to the relationship and explained that after she began seeing Leong as her psychiatrist, he started initiating physical contact, such as kissing her, during their office visits.
The victim described one occasion where the two engaged in sexual intercourse at the victim’s home. The victim testified Leong also started attending her church and engaging in other activities with her outside the normal confines of a psychiatrist-patient relationship.
Numerous witnesses testified to Leong’s behavior and the victim’s statements about his behavior. Another psychiatrist testified as an expert witness to the proper boundaries in the psychiatrist-patient relationship.
A former patient of Leong’s testified, as well, saying he made advances on her that were similar to the advances he made on the victim. The former patient testified that Leong started rubbing her leg during sessions and, on one occasion, she believed Leong was trying to kiss her. The former patient spoke with others about Leong’s conduct and stopped seeing him as a psychiatrist.
After a four-day trial, a jury convicted Leong of the charge lodged against him.
On appeal, he argued that the trial judge should not have allowed the state to present the testimony of the expert psychiatrist and the former patient. Leong also claimed the evidence was insufficient to establish he had sex with the victim.
Ultimately, the Court of Appeals affirmed Leong’s conviction and held that each of the issues he raised were correctly decided by the trial court. The court also found there was sufficient evidence to affirm Leong’s conviction of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.
“The emails, phone calls and witness testimony all corroborated the fact that Leong and (the victim) were in a relationship far beyond that of an appropriate psychiatrist-patient relationship, thereby bolstering (the victim’s) credibility,” according to the Court of Appeals opinion.
Handling the trial and arguing the case before the Court of Appeals was Assistant Chisago County Attorney Nick Hydukovich.