Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Dr. Cano deserved his 1-year sentence

The State Bar of Georgia has rules of ethical conduct which prohibit a prosecutor from making public comment about any matter which he is actively prosecuting. I have therefore had to sit by in silence as I have read letter after letter to the editor concerning Dr. Orlando Cano from some of his patients and how he was being mistreated by the criminal justice system in Fayette County. Today the silence breaks.

On Dec. 3, 2003 Orlando Cano pled no contest to the final criminal charge against him, simple battery. As a result of plea negotiations, he offered no defense to the allegation that he touched a patient in an insulting and provoking manner during a gynecological examination.

The trial on that charge resulted in a mistrial in September of this year. Orlando Cano was convicted of two counts of sexual battery against two of his former employees in November of this year.

The only reason he wasn’t convicted of a third count of sexual battery was that the victim testified the offense was committed in his Stockbridge, Henry County, office, not in Fayette County.

Orlando Cano was sentenced to serve 12 months in jail on two counts, 12 months of probation on the remaining count, a $10,000 fine and restricted from practicing medicine.

As part of the state’s case we amassed over 35 former patients who asserted that he fondled, groped, or sexually abused them. In addition we located, and interviewed approximately 12 former employees, and nursing staff form area hospitals who asserted sexually abusive and harassing treatment from Orlando Cano.

At trial Orlando Cano asserted that the witnesses were lying and making up stories, or that if he touched them, it was accidental due to the close quarters within which they worked, or that if he touched them, he couldn’t help it because of his Hispanic heritage.

Such a defense was argued by me to be ludicrous and insulting to a class of hard-working honest people. The jury agreed.

Orlando Cano was a talented physician who has helped many women. However, he misused and abused that position of trust to victimize many women.

When this case got started, we had a goal of ending his medical practice (therefore stemming the flow of victims), holding him accountable for his conduct, and helping the victims of his crimes. We accomplished our goal.

When questioned on the stand about why she didn’t immediately cry out when Cano grabbed her breast, one nursing assistant from a local hospital testified on the stand that she was a young, black female who didn’t make the hospital any money, and he was a physician. “Who would believe me?”

I am proud to state that six jurors and one prosecutor believed her.

Steven L. Harris


Fayette County

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