LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A Las Cruces psychiatrist could face years in prison after pleading no contest to charges accusing him of sexually assaulting female patients.
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A plea agreement that recommends seven years in prison said Dr. Mark Beale pleaded no contest to a total of 16 counts of felony criminal sexual penetration, misdemeanor criminal sexual contact and petty misdemeanor battery, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.
After Beale said in state District Court on Tuesday that he didn’t want to give up the opportunity to defend himself. Judge Douglas Driggers initially said he’d reject the plea but he then accepted it when Beale’s lawyer asked him to reconsider.
When pleading no contest, a person doesn’t admit guilt. Instead, they’re conceding that jurors would probably convict them if the case went to trial.
Beale, 74, was arrested in 2019 after a half-dozen of patients, all women, alleged rape, harassment or abuse.
Defense attorney Gary Mitchell said Beale won’t begin his serving his sentence until after his scheduled 2022 trial on federal charges of unlawful dispensing and distributing of a schedule II controlled substance.
Many of the same women who alleged Beale sexually assaulted them said Beale provided them medication they didn’t need.