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COLUMBIANA CO. Court will get doctor a lawyer



Published: Sat, July 13, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Trial dates for the two crimes have yet to be set.

By NORMAN LEIGH

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

LISBON -- A former Calcutta doctor accused of sex crimes involving patients will get a court-appointed attorney, but he must try to pay for at least part of the representation.

Judge C. Ashley Pike of Columbiana County told Dr. Anil Bajaj on Friday that he must liquidate whatever assets he can to help pay attorney fees. County taxpayers will pay what the unemployed physician cannot. Ohio law requires that an attorney be appointed to represent indigent defendants charged with criminal offenses.

Financial hardships

Dr. Bajaj, 39, now living near Cleveland, told the court he has not been able to find work as a doctor since he was charged last summer.

He also said that he's been unable to make payments on his home, which is facing foreclosure.

His wife also is unemployed. They are living on about $3,000 in savings, he told the court.

Many of his funds were exhausted in paying for two attorneys to represent him in his first trial, Dr. Bajaj said.

That proceeding ended last month in mistrial after two jurors admitted they failed to follow Judge Pike's instructions not to read newspaper accounts of the trial.

Judge Pike noted that Dr. Bajaj has two vehicles and urged him to sell one of them for cash.

The judge appointed Atty. Lawrence Stacey II of Columbiana to represent Dr. Bajaj and set a 3:20 p.m. July 26 pretrial.

Judge Pike said that at that time he will review Dr. Bajaj's efforts to convert assets to cash.

Two charges

Judge Pike said he also expects to set trial dates for the two offenses. The doctor is charged with sexual battery, a third-degree felony bearing a maximum five-year jail sentence.

Authorities say he fondled a 21-year-old Wellsville woman during a July 27, 2001, examination. It was the trial on this offense that ended in a mistrial.

Dr. Bajaj also is charged with gross sexual imposition, a fourth-degree felony bearing a maximum 18-month jail 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 is free on bond.




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