Ex-doctor gets 20 years for rape2006-02-07
by Noel S.
A former gynecologist from Bellevue was sentenced Monday to
20 years in prison for sexually assaulting his patients on the
Dr. Charles Momah's sentencing provided long-awaited relief
for nearly 50 women who said he assaulted them. Justice came
to them after years spent battling the state health department
and enduring threats by Momah himself.
In a letter to the court, one woman said she had been a
patient of Momah's for six years when he first assaulted her
during an exam at his Burien office in 2000.
``This violation of my body attacked me mentally,
physically and emotionally and today still possesses me,'' she
What complicated her situation and that of other victims,
she said, was the fact that Momah had gotten her hooked on
prescription painkillers. He knew he had total control over
them, she said.
The fact that many of the drug-addicted women continued
seeing Momah for gynecological treatments after he first
assaulted them became one factor in Momah's argument for a
sentence below the standard range of 17 to 23 years.
Momah's attorney, David Allen, also asked the judge for a
reduced sentence because his client's health is poor and
getting worse with high blood pressure and diabetes. He said
it's unlikely Momah, 49, will get adequate medical treatment
in a prison hospital.
Momah's sentencing Monday by Superior Court Judge Michael
Trickey came nearly three months after a jury of six men and
six women convicted him on one count each of second- and
third-degree rape and two counts of indecent liberties with
At sentencing, three women, including the letter writer,
provided statements to the court about how Momah's assaults
and violations of their trust continue to affect them.
``I also came to learn that all those years of his
treatments were nothing more than lies, so he could get his
kicks and collect some extra money at my expense,'' the letter
Senior Deputy Prosecutor Roger Rogoff argued for a
high-end, 23-year sentence for Momah, focusing on his breach
of doctor-patient trust.
``Given the defendant's position of authority, his multiple
sexual criminal acts and his apparent disdain for the women he
had sworn to care for,'' Rogoff said, ``the only appropriate
sentence in this case is the high end of the standard
Bellevue attorney Harish Bharti has filed civil lawsuits
against Momah on behalf of nearly 50 women who say the doctor
assaulted them. Prior to sentencing, Bharti filed a 748-page
legal brief arguing on behalf of Momah's victims that he be
sentenced to the longest possible prison term.
Despite the judge's mid-range sentence for Momah, Bharti
said his clients are satisfied knowing the doctor will be
locked up for years to come.
``My clients are very pleased with the decision of the
judge,'' Bharti said. ``Momah will not be walking the streets
of Seattle victimizing them.''
Included in Bharti's legal brief are sworn depositions from
several women who said Momah threatened them with attack by
Nigerian street-gang thugs if they assisted in his
Following a monthlong trial in November, a jury found Momah
guilty of performing gynecological exams without wearing
gloves, sexually touching patients, probing them unnecessarily
with a vaginal ultrasound wand and flirting with them
Near the end of the trial, Momah took the witness stand to
defend himself. He did not deny having sex with his patients,
but claimed the sex was consensual.
At sentencing, several of Momah's relatives spoke on his
behalf, asking the judge for leniency.
Born and raised in Nigeria, Momah was trained there and in
Canada, then began practicing in Georgia and New York. In
1993, he moved to Bellevue and opened clinics in Burien,
Federal Way and, for a short time, in Issaquah. They all have
closed since the state suspended his medical license in
In 2000, Jolie Campbell, a former patient of Momah's, told
the state health department officials and the King County
Sheriff's Office that Momah had performed unnecessary surgery
on her, deliberately got her addicted to painkillers, raped
her five years earlier and told her no one would believe her
if she reported the rape because she was addicted to
Deputies investigated, but prosecutors decided there wasn't
enough evidence to file charges.
Momah continued practicing until Sept. 11, 2003, when his
license was suspended after another patient reported being
Several of Momah's victims have filed civil lawsuits
against the state health department for failing to act sooner
on the complaints.
Three more charges of insurance fraud are set for trial
next April. If convicted on those counts, Momah could remain
in jail for more than 23 years.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.