Shaker Knitmeapony sent me this article about an oral surgeon acquitted of charges associated with allegations he sexually assaulted 17 of his female patients after he was not "convinced beyond a reasonable doubt" because of expert testimony that suggested the women all suffered drug-induced hallucinations.
"On one hand, you have 17 people saying this is what happened to me," [Common Pleas Judge Anthony M. Mariani] said during a 30-minute statement before announcing his verdict. "On the other hand, you have expert testimony saying it could not have happened because they were under drugs."Dr. Robert John Boyda's defense attorney, William Difenderfer, "centered his defense around an argument that anesthesia drugs—especially propofol—can cause sexual hallucinations while preventing the patients from remembering anything real," which was confirmed by the defense's expert witnesses. The prosecution's expert witness, Dr. Richard Bennett of the University of Pittsburgh dental school, "testified that consciousness and memory can come and go while under deep sedation, contrary to defense testimony," but Judge Mariani was more persuaded by the defense experts.
…Mariani said he believed the women were truthful about what they thought happened. But the judge said he found compelling the testimony of defense experts who said the women could not have remembered anything because of drugs used to anesthetize them—and the fact that the drugs can cause sexual hallucinations.
"Across the street in civil division, my verdict might be different, but I must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt," he said.
Now, while it's accurate that propofol can cause sexual hallucinations in a minority of users—though sexual assault hallucinations typically happen only to women undergoing gynecological procedures—I can't imagine the odds that 17 women (and only women) who go to the same oral surgeon would all have exactly the same experience. We're not talking about one woman here, for which evidence of the drug having this potential side effect might indeed produce reasonable doubt, but 17 women, all of whom "told similar stories of lapsing in and out of consciousness from the anesthesia, but said they remember Boyda assaulting them in some way."
By what definition of "reasonable" is it considered reasonable to dismiss as coincidence a wildly anomalous cluster of atypical reactions to a drug shared by only the female patients of a single doctor, particularly given known cases of doctors using the drug specifically in order to sexually assault patients, because of its known side effect of producing sexual hallucinations?
Frankly, that conclusion strikes me as the very quintessence of unreasonable.