LIMA — Dr. James Gideon took the witness stand in his own defense Friday as his trial on misdemeanor charges of sexual imposition inched toward its conclusion.
A jury of four men and four women heard a third day of testimony in Lima Municipal Court in the case of the 72-year-old physician accused of fondling five female patients at his Bluffton office in the spring of 2017.
Gideon, a rheumatology and internal medicine physician, is charged with five third-degree misdemeanor counts of sexual imposition — one count for each of the women who approached Bluffton police with their stories of being fondled and inappropriately touched during otherwise routine visits to Gideon’s office.
Two similar counts were dismissed after Judge Tammie Hursh ruled the state did not have sufficient evidence to support the charges.
Much of the doctor’s testimony focused on an interview conducted by Chad Yoakam, an investigator with the state medical board. Gideon described how the interview, which took place at the doctor’s Bluffton office, quickly went “from conversation to interrogation.”
He said Yoakam was threatening “and did not present me the opportunity to give accurate answers. He asked me things like ‘Who else did you fondle?’ and ‘Who else did you abuse? I was led down a road to confessing to things I didn’t do,” Gideon testified.
The start of Gideon’s testimony was delayed for more than 30 minutes as attorneys argued over the defendant’s planned use of a slide show and mannequin as visual aides.
Prosecutor Nichole Smith said the jury could be influenced by the slide show, but Hursh allowed the defendant to proceed as planned.
Objections continued as Gideon’s testimony began. When Defense Attorney Dennis Belli attempted to question his client, Gideon instead began to offer what more closely resembled a prepared oratory than it did testimony. Smith objected on several occasions, and Hursh reprimanded the defendant repeatedly for veering off track with his rambling answers.
In her opening arguments, Smith told jurors the case boils down to “a doctor abusing his authority” by inappropriately touching the alleged victims for the expressed intent of sexual gratification.”
Belli on more than one occasion asked Gideon if sexual gratification was the motivation for what he has admitted were inappropriate touches.
“I am not sexually active and have no sexual desires. That was not ever on my radar,” the doctor testified.
Asked if he had ever experienced sexual gratification while dealing with a patient, Gideon replied, “Never.”
Testimony was set to resume Saturday morning with the state’s cross-examination of Gideon, followed by closing arguments from attorneys. The jury will then begin deliberations.