Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Monday, July 31, 2006

Doctor ordered to disclose information given by ‘Nicole’

By Tetch Torres

THE DOCTOR who examined a Filipina who accused four US servicemen of rape has been ordered by a local court to disclose details of his conversation with the victim.

Citing privileged communication, Dr. Rolando Ortiz of James L. Gordon Memorial Hospital refused to reveal before the Makati City regional trial court information given to him by the victim, whom the court has named “Nicole,” during his June 29 testimony.

The defense filed a motion for reconsideration after presiding Judge Benjamin Pozon of Branch 139 sustained an objection by the prosecution when lawyers for the suspects tried to force Ortiz to reveal what “Nicole” had told him.

In his two-page order, Pozon said the rule of privileged communication between doctor and patient could not be invoked in this case.

Ortiz, a medico-legal officer, had testified that contusions on the victim's genital area were consistent with injuries and lacerations of rape victims.

During cross examination, defense lawyer Jose Justiniano asked Ortiz if, based on his interview with the victim, she had previous sexual intercourse.

But the prosecution objected to the question on the ground of privileged communication, which Pozon sustained.

In its recent order, Pozon noted that there was a point in reconsidering his previous ruling.

"Such privileged communication may be raised only in a civil action and that the information sought to be elicited from the witness is, to the mind of the Court, material and relevant to the case," he said.

Ortiz will return to the witness stand this Tuesday for further cross examination and clarificatory questions from Pozon.

“Nicole” accused Lance Corporal Daniel Smith of raping her inside a moving van at the Subic Bay Freeport, a former American naval base, on Nov. 1, 2005.

She also claimed that three of Smith’s peers, Lance Corporals Keith Silkwood and Dominic Duplantis and Staff Sergeant Chad Carpentier cheered their colleague on.

The four Americans face a 40-year prison term if found guilty.

They were part of a contingent force of US troops that conducted joint military exercises with their Filipino counterparts last year.


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