Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

November 8, 2007

PLACHE CASE: Evidence could include ‘similar behavior’

Prosecutors want to introduce eight more potential victims into evidence

By Rick Pfeiffer/pfeifferr@gnnewspaper.com

Attorneys for a Falls doctor accused of sexually abusing at least three young patients say the charges against him are lies.

In a hearing Thursday afternoon in Niagara County Court, a lawyer for Dr. David Plache said his defense to a 29-count indictment is the conduct he’s accused of never happened.

“We deny that (the acts of sexual abuse) did occur,” defense attorney Vincent Doyle III said. “Our defense is these events did not occur.”

Doyle was arguing against a move by prosecutors to introduce evidence at trial that Plache may have engaged in behavior similar to the charges he’s facing with at least eight other young people, six boys and two girls. The victims he is charged with abusing in this case are all young boys.

Prosecutor Richard Zucco told County Court Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza that introducing evidence that Plache may have engaged in behavior “strikingly similar” to the crimes he’s charge with, with other young patients, was important to proving his case.

“Where the jury must determine intent, conduct that may illuminate that intent is admissible,” Zucco argued. “It’s to help the jury evaluate the defendant’s intent, to the extent that there is (the same) conduct with seven other patients and a child in a social setting. It shows this was not inadvertence or medical necessary and it shows an abnormal interest (in children).”

Doyle fired back that Plache had no intention of trying to defend himself against the abuse charges by claiming he was performing a medical procedure or had only passing contact with the victims.

“The acts alleged in the indictment are so bad, that (additional evidence of that type of conduct) would be wholly unnecessary,” Doyle said. “There is no medical justification (for what Plache is charged with). (The acts of abuse) did not occur. Medical necessity is not our defense. We have never suggested that this was a mistake. The allegations of the (victims) are fabrications.”

Plache, a pediatric endocrinologist, who leased office space at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, faces a 29-count indictment charging him with sexual abuse-related offenses involving three young boys. He is accused of improperly touching and molesting the boys, who were his patients.

He faces 18 misdemeanor counts of third-degree sexual abuse in one case, five counts of third-degree sexual abuse in another case and two counts of third-degree sexual abuse in the third case. The indictment also charges Plache with one count of endangering the welfare of a child and two felony counts of first-degree sexual abuse.

Sperrazza reserved decision on Zucco’s request as well as moves by the defense to have the indictment dismissed or to have the case separated into three individual cases, one for each victim.