Trial of accused doctor delayed
LISBON -- A trial for a former Calcutta physician accused of sexual misconduct was delayed after the doctor said he can no longer afford to pay for attorneys.
Judge C. Ashley Pike of Columbiana County Common Pleas Court granted two attorneys permission Monday to withdraw as lawyers for Dr. Anil Bajaj.
The development means Dr. Bajaj will not go on trial next Tuesday as originally scheduled.
He was being represented by attorneys Fred Emmerling of East Liverpool and James Gentile of Youngstown.
During Monday's pretrial hearing, Dr. Bajaj told the judge he has no money left to pay for attorneys, and he is asking the court to declare him indigent and appoint counsel for him.
Judge Pike instructed the physician to fill out a form outlining his finances and set a 3 p.m. July 12 hearing to determine whether Dr. Bajaj will get a court-appointed attorney who will be paid at taxpayers' expense.
Earlier in the hearing, Gentile explained to the court that the criminal charges against Dr. Bajaj prompted the physician to close his office in Calcutta and move to the Cleveland area.
Dr. Bajaj is still licensed to practice internal medicine. But he told the court he can't find a job as a result of the charges.
He said he has about $3,000 left in savings and his wife is unemployed.
Dr. Bajaj, 39, is charged with gross sexual imposition, a fourth-degree felony bearing a maximum 18-month sentence.
He is accused of having a 36-year-old female patient lift her blouse and touching her inappropriately during a July 27, 2001, examination.
Dr. Bajaj was tried last month on a charge of sexual battery, a third-degree felony bearing a maximum five-year jail sentence.
Authorities say he fondled a 21-year-old Wellsville woman during an examination that occurred July 27.
Judge Pike declared a mistrial, however, after learning that two jurors had disobeyed his order not to read newspaper accounts of the trial.
During the July 12 hearing, the judge may set new trial dates for both offenses.
Dr. Bajaj asked Judge Pike to consider moving his upcoming trial because he believes publicity about his case will prevent him from getting a fair trial in Columbiana County.
Judge Pike told Dr. Bajaj that it will be up to his new attorney to argue such a motion.
The judge added that he would probably try to seat a jury in the county before moving the trial elsewhere.
Dr. Bajaj remains free on bond.