It's been nearly six years since sexual assault charges were first lodged against James Mauti, a sports-medicine physician in Springfield, N.J. His accuser is his former bookkeeper, who alleges that when she sought treatment for her back pain Mauti instead drugged and then molested her and took photos during the incident.
This week, jury selection will begin in the bizarre case which, among other things, has pitted two sisters against each other. The alleged sexual assault victim, whose name has been withheld to protect her identity, is the sister of Mauti's wife, Jeannette, who was also employed by the doctor at the time as an office manager.
The case has dragged on as several courts have weighed in on whether Jeanette Mauti -- who reportedly has admitted to taking crucial pieces of physical evidence -- could be compelled to testify against her husband, The Star-Ledger of Newark reports.
She was dating and living with the defendant, but not yet married to him, at the time of the alleged attack; she married him 11 months after the purported 2006 assault -- before any pretrial hearings. A Supreme Court decision in January upheld a previous court's ruling that Jeannette Mauti couldn't be compelled to testify against her husband, according to court papers.
The documents say that the alleged victim went to Mauti's office on the morning of Nov. 25, 2006, to work extra hours, though the business was closed. After about 90 minutes, she had a recurrence of the "rather severe back pain" that she experienced the previous week, which Mauti had treated with massage, along with painkillers and muscle relaxants.
After the pain began to recur later the morning of Nov. 25, the alleged victim decided to go home and lie down. But Mauti offered to treat her again, using the same therapy. This time, however, the former employee has charged, Mauti gave her an additional "small liquid dosage of what the [doctor] described as a muscle relaxant."
The alleged victim said she began to immediately feel as though she had been drugged and felt as if she was "drunk." She was also given an unknown injection in her lower back, she told prosecutors.
Though she had difficulty recalling what happened after the injection, the bookkeeper said during grand jury testimony that she was asked by the doctor to change into a pair of his boxer shorts and was given a second dose of liquid muscle relaxant to drink, leaving her unable to move or speak. It was during this time, the victim alleges, that Mauti molested her and took photographs of her.
Mauti, 43, has denied all four charges against him, including criminal sexual contact for allegedly sexually assaulting an employee. He faces 20 years in prison if convicted.
His attorney has said in court documents that the woman's testimony isn't credible because side effects of the medication she took are hallucinations and extreme drowsiness, the Star-Ledger notes.
Mauti, has been in practice for 17 years and free on $150,000 bail since the charges were filed in August 2007, according to the newspaper. He also keeps regular business hours.
Jeanette Mauti has testified that she took items from her then-future husband, including a Palm Pilot electronic device that James Mauti was thought to have used to photograph the alleged attack, as well as boxer shorts and a towel that she thought "might" be connected to the incident. She gave the items to her father for safekeeping, she said.
Because of the Supreme Court ruling, the jury won't hear Jeanette Mauti testify in coming days. But the court is expected to hear from the alleged victim, as well as her father, best friend and boyfriend, to whom she reported the alleged attack soon after.
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