Feature

Florida doc dies by suicide after allegedly drugging and raping patients


 

Eric Andrew Salata, MD, a 54-year-old internist based in Naples, Florida, made headlines 2 weeks ago when he was arrested by local police and charged with sexual battery on two of his patients, according to a police statement.

A week later, a Collier County Sheriff’s deputy found Dr. Salata’s body near his Naples home with a gunshot wound to the head, according to police. The medical examiner later ruled it a suicide.

Dr. Salata co-owned Pura Vida Medical Spa in Naples with his wife Jill Salata, a certified family nurse practitioner. They specialized in cosmetic treatment and surgery.

Naples police said that they arrested Dr. Salata after two female patients accused the doctor of allegedly drugging and raping them while they were still unconscious.

Both victims described being given nitrous oxide, also called laughing gas, for sedation and pain from the cosmetic procedure. The first victim, age 51, said Dr. Salata prescribed alprazolam (Xanax) to take before the procedure and then also gave her nitrous oxide and tequila, causing her to black out, according to NBC2 News.

The second victim, age 72, told police that as the nitrous oxide was wearing off, she found Dr. Salata performing sexual intercourse. The victim felt shocked after the sedation subsided about what had taken place, contacted police, and submitted to a sexual assault examination, according to the police statement.

At Dr. Salata’s November 22 hearing before Judge Michael Provost, a prosecutor asked the judge whether Dr. Salata should surrender his firearms; Provost reportedly dismissed the idea.

“It is disappointing and frustrating that Dr. Salata has escaped justice,” said one victim’s attorney, Adam Horowitz, in a blog post. “Yet, we are relieved that no other women will be assaulted by Dr. Salata again. It took tremendous courage for my client to tell her truth. She was ready to hold him accountable in court.”

Horowitz says he plans to file a civil lawsuit on behalf of his client against Dr. Salata’s estate. The Naples police are continuing their investigation into the victims’ cases, which now includes a third woman, said spokesman Lt. Bryan McGinn.

Meanwhile, the Pura Vida Medical Spa has closed permanently and its website has been deleted. One reviewer named Soul F. wrote on the spa’s Yelp page: “And now may God have mercy on this rapist’s soul. Amen.”

A version of this article first appeared on Medscape.com.

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