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updated: 6/19/2012 6:11 PM

Judge admits abuse claims in physician's assistant's trial

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Two women who say a physician's assistant molested them during their examinations at a Palatine health care center will be allowed to testify at the criminal sexual assault trial of Alejandro Sanchez.

Cook County Judge Kay Hanlon granted Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Sharon Kanter's motion to admit the evidence in Sanchez's trial, though he is not charged in those two cases.

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Sanchez, 50, was charged with criminal sexual abuse in October 2010, after a then 38-year-old patient claimed he fondled and pulled at her breasts in an aggressive manner during her exam at Vista Health Center, 1585 N. Rand Road.

The woman told authorities she saw Sanchez reach into his chest pocket where he kept his phone, and that she believed he was trying to photograph her exposed breast.

The evidence allowed by Hanlon includes claims from a 49-year-old woman and from a 23-year-old woman who say Sanchez fondled them during exams.

"There are compelling similarities between each of these cases and the one before you," argued Kanter, who acknowledged to the court that the defendant has not been charged with any crimes based on the allegations of the 49- and 23-year-old women.

"But there's no requirement in the statute that other crimes should have resulted in arrests or convictions," she said, adding that the women's testimony may be used to rebut a potential defense claim that Sanchez possessed an "innocent state of mind" and that the women simply misunderstood his actions.

Defense attorney Steve Fagan argued against allowing prosecutors to introduce the women's testimony, saying it will result in "mini trials."

"What we have here is an attempt by the state to unite (several) trials in one," Fagan said. "There is clearly an attempt to prejudice the trier of fact."

Hanlon disagreed and ruled the testimony admissible.

Sanchez next appears in court July 26.

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