A Lehigh County jury found a pediatrician not guilty Thursday of indecent assault, following a three-day trial.
Dr. Jarret Patton was a pediatrician at an Allentown clinic in February 2016 when he was accused of rubbing his genitals on the mother of a 9-month-old boy during a wellness exam.
Patton’s trial began Tuesday on a single count of indecent assault in the case.
While there was only one accuser related to the criminal charge, jurors heard testimony from six other women who allege Patton victimized them in the same way during exams at the same clinic.
Two of the accusers, including the one in the criminal case, were in the courtroom and were silent after the verdict was read. They declined to comment afterward.
As the jury foreman said ‘not guilty,” Patton’s family broke out into sobs and began hugging each other. Patton turned to look at them and mouthed the words. “I love you.”
His wife yelled in Spanish “inocente” (innocent) as she hugged a supporter outside the courtroom.
“He’s looking to get back to work and start taking care of children again, and their families,” defense attorney John Waldon said. “He’d like to get back to where he was working. That’s what he enjoyed doing, working at the clinic.”
Holding his wife’s hand as he left the courthouse, Patton called the allegations “an assassination of my character.” Patton likened it to the assassination of Emmitt Till, a 14-year-old black boy murdered for allegedly flirting with a white woman.
“I would rather be judged by 12, than carried by six,” Patton said.
Patton thanked his family, friends and supporters, many of whom were in the courtroom during the trial.
“They knew the truth all along,” he said, adding his family suffered emotionally, physically and financially while waiting for the trial.
Patton, once the medical director of outpatient pediatrics at Lehigh Valley Health Network, worked out of the Children’s Clinic at the 17th Street hospital in Allentown.
He was placed on leave after Lehigh Valley Health Network became aware of the allegations, and was eventually terminated on June 24, 2016.
Waldron said Patton has been able to get his medical license back, and was looking forward to going back to work.
In his closing statement to the jury Thursday morning, Matt Falk, the county’s chief of prosecutions, said Patton was a “serial froteur posing as a doctor.”
Prosecutors say the alleged incident is an example of frotteurism, sexual gratification by rubbing against a non-consensual person or an object.
Waldron countered there was nothing sexual about what happened, and Patton testified his lower body would come into contact with patients or their parents during an exam.
“It was part of the exam and he was focused on the child,” the defense attorney said, later adding it was physically impossible for some of the alleged events to happen as they were described by the accusers.
Waldron questioned why the other accusers did not report their incidents to the clinic or the police, and why most only came forward after media reports of the 2016 incident.