Sunday, October 4, 2009

Monterey County doctor sentenced to 6 years for sodomizing acquaintence

A doctor who groomed and then raped women he went on dates with was sentenced to 6 years in prison Friday September 25. Carl Bergstrom, a remorseless "sexual predator," as referred to in his sentencing by Judge Russell Scott, was sentenced on the strength of the testimony by "Jane Doe #1," and the abuse of his position of trust by that assault on April 14, 2007. Bergstrom was convicted of sodomy on July 27.

"It does appear, from all of the evidence at trial ... the jury's verdict and your inability to stop, that you are a sexual predator," and his harsh words did not stop with the convicted, disgraced doctor.

Judge Scott excoriated defenders of Bergstrom, since they rolled their eyes in disbelief during the victim impact statement by Jane Doe #1.

"That's wrong. There's something wrong with that," the judge said, asking them if they would feel the same way if it were their daughter or granddaughter who had been assaulted by Bergstrom.

During the trial, Scott said, he heard and watched the victim, who "literally curled up on the witness stand" as she described the assault and her resulting injuries.

"I am not in disbelief," he said. "There is very little doubt ... this jury reached the correct verdict."

During the closing arguments, defense attorney Tom Worthington stated that Jane Doe 1 needed to take some responsibility. "What were you expecting when you drank in a bar with the doctor, went to his home with no ride home, allowed him to kiss you and put his hand under your shirt?"
Prosecutor Johnson responded by pointing out the victim's injuries and her one week hospital stay, stating that as a remorseless predator of women, Bergstrom "deserves no mercy."

"That question is best answered by asking, what weren't you expecting," Judge Scott said.

"Jane Doe 1" testified that Bergstrom, 53, attacked her in his home after the two spent an evening drinking and socializing in Carmel. She said they were on his couch and she remembers kissing him, then "fading out." She was jarred awake when Bergstrom began sodomizing her as she was on her knees in front of the couch.

She said she repeatedly screamed for him to stop but he continued by physically restraining her. When he eventually left the room, she fled and called 911 from outside his home.

A 12-hour rape examination that followed detailed severe injuries from the assault as well as a fall as she tried to flee.

In her statement to the court, the woman said she still suffers from the physical and emotional injuries of the night. She said she is ashamed and feels the small community she works in knows who she is.

Two other women testified at his trial that they were sexually assaulted by him, though Bergstrom was not charged in their cases.

Jane Doe 3

Scott said he was particularly convinced by the testimony of Jane Doe 3, a young widow who testified that Bergstrom had similarly raped and sodomized her on a blind date that her daughters convinced her to go on.

Chastising Bergstrom's supporters, he read from a transcript of her first statement to an investigator, delivered after Bergstrom's trial had already begun in July. She had never reported the assault because she didn't want her daughters to know and feel responsible.

In the end the woman testified as Jane Doe 3. Like Jane Doe 1, the woman said Bergstrom forced himself on her after a night of drinking and socializing. Like Jane Doe 2, who described a similar assault, she said she felt she had been drugged.

Bergstrom's defense attorney's motion for a new trial, based of a detailed definition of consent and the belief that the prosecutor was inviting the jury to convict Bergstrom of an uncharged crime of sexual assault of an intoxicated person, was denied.

Bergstrom's license to practice medicine is also in jeopardy. On the day of the conviction, Bergstrom was charged by the Medical Board Of California with the use and solicitation for sale of cocaine, and for practising medicine from jail.

During his sentencing hearing, prosecutor Cristina Johnson said jailhouse recordings captured Bergstrom giving medical advice to his patients over the phone, then soliciting money from them to pay for his criminal defense.

The board's accusation cites another tape recording as well. In 2007, according to court records, Bergstrom inadvertently left his dictation recorder running in his office for 5½ hours. It recorded him trading cocaine for cash and prescription drugs, using cocaine and offering to sell it or trade it for sex.

According to the accusation, the medical board subpoenaed a copy of the tape from Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula in July.

According to California law, sex offenders must have their medical licenses revoked for a period of 5 years minimum, and remain revoked until 3 years after successful parole completion. Bergstrom's license was suspended upon conviction. Bergstrom may petition the Monterey County Superior Court for a finding of rehabilitation, at which point the California Medical Board may decide to reinstate his license, a process that according to Deputy Attorney General Lawrence Mercer, won't happen.

"He's not coming back. What, he's coming back as a 66-year-old ex-con? I don't think he's going to make much of an impression."

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