Jury convicts Las Cruces doctor of criminal sexual contact

Jurors deliberating in Dr Woodys trial

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - After deliberating for hours, a jury of 10 men and two women found a Las Cruces neurologist guilty of one count of criminal sexual contact Friday evening.

Dr. Robert Woody faced three charges of criminal sexual contact. The jury found him guilty on one charge, acquitted Woody on the second charge, but was deadlocked on the third. Woody also faced a felony charge of kidnapping, but the judge dismissed that charge Thursday night after he said there was not enough evidence presented during trial to support the charge.

Woody faces two years in prison, but will be sentenced at a later date. Under Woody's conditions of release, he can't be in possession of any firearms, return to the place of the alleged incident, consume any alcohol or drugs and cannot leave Doña Ana County without approval. Woody was given a $10,000 unsecured bond.

Before closing arguments began, the state called a final rebuttal witness took the stand.

The accuser, a former patient of Dr. Woody who suffered from PTSD, testified he went to Woody twice for acupuncture treatment for his back and said both times Woody touched him inappropriately. 

The accuser told jurors, that during his first visit, Woody went from his back to his buttocks and removed his shorts. The accuser testified he felt uncomfortable because it felt like a passionate touch. 

"Almost like a rub. I felt uncomfortable and then jumped up from there," the accuser said, " I guess the best way I can possible explain it is if your significant other was touching you, not your doctor."

During closing arguments, state prosecutors told jurors Woody was an authority figure who abused his power with the intent of receiving sexual pleasure. State Prosecutor Heather Chavez, told the jury, "If you find him not guilty, he can walk out of here and go home as his counselor said, knowing he violated patients who went to him for help and he got away with it. And if he chooses to, maybe he can continue doing it." 

The defense asked jurors to find Dr. Woody not guilty on all counts, telling jurors they were witnesses to an attack on good medicine and a good doctor.  The defense also argued a good doctor has to treat patients and  sometimes that means laying his hands on them. "A neurologist is a doctor and doctors treat patients and they have to lay hands, and if you don't lay hands, you do your patients a disservice," said Jim Darnell, the defense attorney.

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