Frederick Pediatrician Found Guilty of 2nd Degree Assault and 4th Degree Sex Offense

FREDERICK – This afternoon, Frederick Circuit Court Judge William R. Nicklas Jr. rendered a verdict in the trial of Dr. Ernesto Cesar Torres. Nicklas found Torres Not Guilty of 2nd degree rape, Guilty of 2nd degree assault, and Guilty of 4th degree sex offense. Sentencing will be held before Judge Nicklas on December 19th.

State’s Attorney Charlie Smith reacted, “I want to first thank the victim for her bravery in coming forward and testifying, her parents for their patience in the process, and the prosecution team for their dedication to this case and our community.”

Smith added, “I have to respectfully disagree with this verdict.  The judge just got this one wrong.  There is no way that someone in a position of trust, who uses that position to violate and molest their patient, did not force themselves upon them. It was force of a different kind, but force nonetheless.”

The trial started on Tuesday following the defendant waiving his right to a jury trial. In a bench trial, the Judge listens to arguments and renders a verdict that includes the finding of facts.

On April 26th, 2019, the 18-year old female victim, who was a lifelong patient of Dr. Torres, went to his office on Thomas Johnson Drive for a follow-up appointment to discuss her anxiety medication. According to the testimony of Torres’ office staff, these types of appointments, referred to as “multiple problem appointments”, were held in the late morning and late afternoon due to their generally longer duration. The victim arrived for her appointment around 4pm that Friday afternoon. A nurse took her back to an examination room to take her vitals. Approximately 10-15 minutes later, Dr. Torres entered the room. Torres checked the victim’s eyes and ears, asked about anxiety, and tested her joints. During the examination, the victim began to experience symptoms of anxiety. Torres had the victim lay down on the exam table, and started to examine her abdominal region, at which point his hand went into the victim’s pants for several minutes. It was during this time that Torres’ hand touched the victim’s vagina. After the victim cried and had a runny nose, Torres grabbed a tissue for the victim and the sexual assault ended. The victim and Torres then spoke for a length of time about various topics, and he gave her a hug. The office staff left the building around 4:30pm that day. Dr. Torres was left alone with the victim for a significant period of time. He eventually walked her out and she drove home. She immediately went to her room to take a shower. The following day, she reported the incident to her mother. On Sunday April 28th, the victim and her mother decided to tell her dad. At that point, they went to the Frederick Police Department to file a report and make a written statement. The initial report was taken by Officer Ashley Antczak and forwarded to CID. Shortly thereafter, Officer Antczak responded to the victim’s residence to recover the pants she was wearing the day of the incident. Detectives Joe Palkovic and Sean McKinney visited Dr. Torres on Monday April 29th to confirm that the victim was his patient and that she has an appointment with him Friday April 26th. Torres confirmed that he saw the victim that day. The detectives asked Torres if he would provide a DNA swab. He agreed, and detectives left briefly to gather the necessary materials from the police department. Upon their return, Dr. Torres admitted in an audio-recorded interview that he probably touched the patient’s vagina.

Detectives recommended charges to the States Attorney’s Office, which were then presented to the Frederick Grand Jury on May 3, 2019. The Grand Jury found there was sufficient evidence to charge Dr. Ernesto Torres with 2nd Degree Rape, 2nd Degree Assault, and 4th Degree Sex Offense.