CONWAY, Ark. (AP) — Sexual assault charges were dropped Thursday during the retrial of an Arkansas doctor accused of fondling patients after prosecutors said a witness was not able to testify at trial.
Last year, a jury acquitted Dr. Robert Rook on eight counts of sexual assault, but that jury could not reach a decision on eight additional charges. Prosecutors had accused Rook of sexually assaulting more than a dozen women.
Rook’s retrial had begun Wednesday, but prosecutor Jason Barrett said Thursday that the state moved to drop the remaining charges because a witness felt she could not endure the stress of a trial.
Judge Charles Clawson Jr. said that Rook would not be tried again because that would amount to double jeopardy.
“The investigation and lengthy prosecution were based upon statements of many brave women who came forward to tell their accounts of abuse they suffered at the hands of Dr. Rook,” Barrett said in a press release. “Today, the last of those ladies decided she could not fight any further.”
Two former patients testified at the previous trial that Rook fondled them under the guise of a breast exam they didn’t request, but Rook’s attorney maintained that his client is innocent and that no physical evidence linked Rook to an assault.
“I’m thrilled,” defense attorney Patrick Benca told the Log Cabin Democrat after the case was dismissed. “This has been a long time coming.”