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Mixed verdict in New Hartford psychiatrist's sex abuse trial

The doctor is accused of inappropriately touching and exposing himself to two patients.

Posted: Feb. 7, 2019 12:13 PM
Updated: Feb. 7, 2019 9:22 PM

UTICA, N.Y. -- A  mixed verdict in the sex abuse trial of a New Hartford psychiatrist accused of inappropriately touching and exposing himself to two patients.

Utica City Court Judge, F. Christopher Giruzzi, found Dr. Surendra Johri guilty of two counts of sexual abuse and one count of forcible touching, and not guilty of two counts of forcible touching and one count of sexual abuse. The guilty verdicts apply to both female victims who testified in this case. 

Attorneys made closing arguments Thursday morning; 18 minutes for the defense, and 41 for the prosecution.

The defense said that the victims, complainants, as he once called them, were not credible. He called one a train wreck- a drug addict, on four different medications. The prosecution said just because someone is struggling with mental illness or addiction, doesn't mean their testimony should be immediately discredited.

"It was huge victory for both of these women, and not even just women, but anyone with a mental health illness, there's a stigma out there that if you have a mental health illness or drug addiction, they may not be believed," said Assistant Oneida County District Attorney, Maria Blais. Blais and ADA Laurie Lisi prosecuted Johri. 

Johri is scheduled for sentencing on April 11. He faces up to a year in jail on the class-A misdemeanors of forcible touching. For the victims and prosecution, equally if not more important than taking Johri's freedom-taking his license. 

"Our ultimate goal was so that he would never be in this position again to be able to abuse any further victims," said Blais. 

Johri will likely undergo hearings through the NYS Department of Health, to determine whether he will keep or lose his license to practice. 

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