SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Supreme Court has reinstated the misdemeanor sexual battery conviction of a Logan doctor in a ruling that overturned a decision from the Utah Court of Appeals.
The state's high court, in a ruling written by Associate Chief Justice Ronald Nehring, found that the judge and defense attorneys for Dr. Raymond Bedell were not mistaken when they allowed evidence about alleged inappropriate behavior from separate victims during the trial, because the evidence was used strategically by defense attorneys.
Bedell was charged with two counts of forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony, accused of twice inappropriately touching a female patient who was seeking pain management treatment. At trial, defense attorneys suggested that the victim came forward only after she was in jail on substance abuse charges and was told about an investigation into allegations against Bedell, the ruling states.
The investigation into allegations from other victims came up during the defense attorneys' questioning of a police detective and prosecutors continued on the thread of questioning.
"Without objection by defense counsel, the prosecutor then elicited testimony during redirect examination of the detective that there had been an investigation into six other allegations of sexual misconduct against Dr. Bedell by former female patients," the ruling states.
Later, the trial judge determined the evidence about the other allegations could be referred to in the jury instructions, only as it related to the defense's theory that the alleged victim had made up her story. Defense attorneys did not object.
Bedell was acquitted of the felonies as charged, but was convicted on misdemeanor sexual battery charges. He appealed to the Utah Court of Appeals, arguing that his defense attorneys were ineffective and that the information about other allegations of sexual misconduct shouldn't have been allowed during the trial.
The Utah Court of Appeals sided with Bedell — finding that defense attorneys had not introduced the evidence — and reversed the conviction, sending the case back for a new trial.
But the high court found that defense attorneys had used the evidence strategically and were not ineffective.
"The court did not err in allowing the state to rebut the defense's theory by placing the defense's contentions in context," the ruling states. "Accordingly, we reverse the decision of the court of appeals, vacate that opinion and affirm Dr. Bedell's conviction for the misdemeanor of sexual battery."