A former gastroenterologist at the New York Presbyterian Hospital in Queens was accused of drugging and raping a then-19-year-old woman who was admitted to the emergency room with gallstone-induced abdominal pain in June 2021.
The lawsuit: Dr. Zhi Alan Cheng allegedly examined the patient and performed an unnecessary rectal examination under the guise of medical treatment a day before she was scheduled to have her gallbladder removed. Cheng allegedly drugged the teen into losing consciousness before raping her while recording the heinous act.
According to the lawsuit, Cheng was no longer in the room when the victim woke up, but she was experiencing “extreme pain to [her] lower abdomen.”
“Dead end”: When the woman informed hospital staff about an Asian male doctor who caused her to lose consciousness, the hospital conducted a lineup of male employees, during which the plaintiff identified Cheng. However, the hospital failed to take action against Cheng, according to the woman’s attorney, Nicholas Liakas.
“That investigation, if you want to call it, hit a dead end,” Liakas told NBC New York. “[The hospital] conspired to cover up her assault by failing to tell her what had happened, failing to test or treat her for the illegal and dangerous injection of drugs she had been given, [and] refusing to call the police.”
Criminal investigation: The alleged rape of the 19-year-old was reportedly confirmed when a criminal investigation into Cheng took place a year later. The doctor was accused of sedating another female victim in his apartment in 2022. When she was unconsciousness, he allegedly raped and recorded the assault.
During the investigation, investigators reportedly found videos of sexual assaults on his electronic devices, including the assault of the 19-year-old patient at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Queens.
“Without the call they did to my mom, I would have never known,” the woman told NBC New York. “They have a video, but I don’t want to see it. I’m scared, I no longer want to go to hospitals. I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through this.”
Indictment: Cheng was reportedly “placed off duty, banned from hospital property and terminated” after the hospital learned of the criminal rape indictment in December 2022. He was arrested on Dec. 27 and was indicted by a grand jury and charged with rape, assault, unlawful surveillance and sexual abuse, among other charges, on Dec. 30.
“The crimes committed by this individual are heinous, despicable and a fundamental betrayal of our mission and our patients’ trust. We are appalled and deeply saddened by what these victims and their families have endured,” the hospital said in a statement.
Cheng, who is awaiting trial, is currently held without bond on Rikers Island.