|10/17/2013 3:59:00 PM|
Jury finds psychiatrist guilty of felony in 2011
by DENISE MARTIN
A psychiatrist employed by St. Croix Regional Medical Center two years ago was found guilty last week on charges that he had sexual relations with a female patient. The violation took place in Chisago County in November 2011. Levi Chen Wah-Leong, 37, was found guilty on one count of felony third degree criminal sexual conduct, as a psychotherapist with a patient. The seven women and five men on the jury delivered their verdict Friday, Oct. 11 after four days of testimony involving 13 witnesses.
The case was prosecuted by Asst. County Attorney Nicholas Hydukovich. Defense attorney Ryan Garry, of Minneapolis, asked Leong on the stand, if he could “start all over” with this patient would he develop a relationship with her, and Leong responded, “No. Not at all.” Leong admitted his behavior was too friendly and that he should not have gotten close to the woman or her family, or shared outings with her socially. Leong described his handling of the 23-year-old woman’s treatment, which began in September 2011, as “inappropriate” but not criminal.
In hindsight, he said that his only offense was that he “...cared too much.” The defense strategy was basically to portray the woman as suffering from mental health issues that created confusion and inconsistencies in memory. The defense tried to show she was upset Leong wouldn’t renew a prescribed medication for her and she was out to exact revenge. But the jury was unconvinced. The initial report made to Lakes Area Police came through the county’s Human Services Department. The investigation located friends and others who, according to the criminal complaint, said they believed the woman had had sexual relations with the doctor.
The St. Croix Falls clinic post was Leong’s first job out of doctor residency training, he testified. He told the court he went into psychiatry because God had given him “a sense of empathy.” Leong, who now lives in Michigan, was immediately taken into custody and will be held without bail until sentencing. He could get 41 to 57 months in prison, according to the county attorney’s office.