Former New Hartford psychiatrist sentenced in sex abuse case
By Jolene Cleaver
June 21, 2019
UTICA — A former New Hartford psychiatrist was sentenced Friday to probation for multiple sexual abuse convictions in Utica City Court.
Surendra Johri, 62, was found guilty after a February trial of forcible touching and sexual abuse related to an April 15, 2017 incident involving a former patient as well as one count of sexual abuse related to a Nov. 11, 2017 incident involving a another patient. The abuse occurred during psychiatric patient sessions at Community Health and Behavioral Services in Utica, where Johri once practiced.
Johri was sentenced to six years of probation for the April 15, 2017 incident and one year of probation for the Nov. 11, 2017 incident. The probation terms will run concurrently.
Further, an order of protection was put in place for both victims.
Prior to sentencing, victim impact statements were made.
“What you did on that day will forever be with me … you abused your position as a doctor. I hope that you learn from this,” said one victim.
The second victim in the case said, “You have to live with yourself and what you have done. I will not let you win.”
Beyond the sentencing, Johri was ordered in late March by the state to surrender his medical license to the state Board for Professional Medical Conduct.
“I have been practicing medicine for over 40 years. I always treated patients respectfully,” an emotional Johri said in court.
Oneida County Assistant District Attorney Maria Murad Blais asked for a stiff sentence, saying Johri “used his profession as an opportunity to sexually abuse his patients.”
“He violated their trust in him as a doctor,” Blais said.
Blais also decried what she described as a “glowing” independent pre-sentence investigation paid for by the defendant and submitted as a supplement for the court to consider before sentencing.
Defense attorney Christopher Pelli, meanwhile, said his client has suffered substantially due to losing his medical license and the media coverage of the case. He said Johri has plans to appeal the conviction.
“Surendra is maintaining his innocence,” Pelli said. “The defendant has been put through the ringer.”