Florida Doctor Arrested After Sexual Assault Allegations
November 29, 2022 Don Pumphrey, Jr. Criminal Defense, News & Announcements, Sex Crimes Social Share
Two women have come forward in accusing a Naples doctor of raping them while receiving medical procedures. Both women claim to have been put out of consciousness prior to the incident resulting in the sexual battery of a physically helpless person.
This article will provide information on the case along with details on sexual battery charges in Florida.
What was the Case?
Dr. Eric Andrew Salata, 54, has been arrested in Naples in relation to multiple sexual battery accusations. According to the Naples Police Department, they received two complaints within the span of four weeks about sexual battery taking place at Pura Vida Medical Spa on 350 5th Avenue South. Both women identified Salata as the assailant.
The first victim claimed to have been prescribed Xanax prior to arriving at the office. Then the patient was given nitrous oxide—laughing gas—as sedation to reduce the pain during the procedure. The first victim stated she was also offered tequila by Dr. Salata. She believed that the sedatives and alcohol caused her to blackout.
As the nitrous oxide began to wear off, the victim woke up to Dr. Salata performing sexual intercourse on her but was unable to stop it. Once the sedation fully subsided, the victim contacted the police. The victim submitted a sexual assault examination, which was sent to an FDLE laboratory for further testing.
The second victim to come forward had a similar story, saying Salata used laughing gas on her and began to massage her. The victim told police that the doctor had raped her and left a bruise on her lip from kissing her. Detectives collected sexual assault evidence from the victim and submitted it to the FDLE laboratory for further testing.
Dr. Salata was arrested from his clinic on November 21st, 2022. He has since been charged with two counts of sexual battery to a physically helpless person. Detectives collected sexual assault evidence from Salata, which was sent to the FDLE laboratory for further testing.
As this is still an ongoing case, Naples Police Department encourages anyone with additional information to contact them at (239) 213-3000.
On Monday, November 28th, police found Salata dead in a ditch near his home during a welfare check. Authorities noticed Salata’s ankle monitor hadn’t moved in eight hours during the day on Monday, which prompted the check.
One of the responding officers noticed a boot sticking up in a wooded area, which then led to Salata’s body being recovered. The defendant was found with a handgun next to his leg and a gunshot wound to the right side of his head. The incident report indicated that Salata left two notes, his credit cards, and his wedding ring.
The ruling of Salata’s death will be made official once the autopsy report is completed. One spokesperson addressed that Salata’s death “does not appear to be suspicious.”
Adam Horowitz, one of the victims’ attorneys, gave a statement regarding Salata’s death, claiming the defendant “escaped justice.”
“It is disappointing and frustrating that Dr. Salata has just escaped justice. It took tremendous courage for my client to tell her truth. She was ready to hold him accountable in court,” Horowitz said in an email.
The legal term for rape in the state of Florida is “sexual battery.” Sexual battery is defined under Florida Statute section 794.011 as “any vaginal, oral, or anal penetration, or in union with, the sexual organ of another or the vaginal or anal penetration of another by any object (excluding for medical purposes).”
Any person 18 years or older who is accused of sexual battery upon a person who is 18 years or older, and without the use of physical force or violence, can be charged with a second-degree felony. A second-degree felony in Florida has a penalty of up to a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison.
Penalties for a sexual battery case can be enhanced depending on the characteristics of the crime. The age of both the accused person and the victim has a huge impact on the severity of the punishment. For example, charges can be enhanced to a first-degree felony if the accused person over the age of 18 allegedly sexually battered a victim between the ages of 12-17.
The penalties can be enhanced again if the accused person over the age of 18 allegedly sexually battered a victim younger than 12-years-old and causes injuries to their sexual organs, or if they used or threatened to use a deadly weapon or physical force likely to result in injury. Violating any of these terms can result in a life-felony. A life-felony in Florida has a penalty of up to a $15,000 fine and imprisonment for life.
The harshest penalties in a sexual battery case can occur if an accused person 18 years or older attempts to or commits sexual battery upon a person younger than 12-years-old, and in doing so causes injuries to the sexual organs of the victim. This type of violation can result in a capital felony. A capital felony in Florida can result in life in prison without parole or the death penalty.
Sexual Battery to a Physically Helpless Person
When determining the appropriate penalty for a person accused of sexual battery, the physical state of the victim can have a huge impact. For example, if the victim was given alcohol or illicit substances to render them from fighting back during the offense.
Florida Statute Section 794.011(1)(g) defines being “physically helpless” as being unconscious, asleep, or for any other reason being physically unable to communicate unwillingness to an act.
Florida Statute Section 794.011(1)(h) defines “physically incapacitated” as being bodily impaired or handicapped and substantially limited in ability to resist or flee.
Section 794.011(4) of the same Florida Statute states that a person who commits sexual battery upon a person 12-years-old or older without consent and with a victim who appears to have been “physically helpless” to resist the sexual battery can be charged with a first-degree felony in Florida. A first-degree felony in Florida has a penalty of up to a $10,000 fine and up to 30 years in prison.
To find out more about how the physical state of a victim plays a role in a sexual battery charge, read our page here.
Defenses to Sexual Battery Charges
In certain cases where the sexual battery charge was based on false allegations or incorrect information, there is the possibility that the charges can be dropped. However, it is important to note that sexual battery accusations are taken extremely seriously, and the State will try to prosecute for the most extensive penalties.
Strategies for a defense will depend on the nature of the case, which is why we strongly advise first speaking with a skilled defense attorney in your area.
The following is a list of potential defenses for a sexual battery case:
- False accusations
- Wrongful identity
- Violation of rights
To figure out if any defenses can work for your sex crimes case, you should first contact a defense attorney in your area.
Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida
Sex crimes are harshly prosecuted in the state of Florida. Depending on the specifics of the case, a defendant convicted of a sexual battery may have to pay expensive fines, go to prison, or register as a sex offender with the National Sex Offender Registry.
The best way to protect yourself and your future is to work with a skilled defense attorney. Don Pumphrey and his attorneys at Pumphrey Law Firm have years of experience representing clients in Florida. Receive a free consultation about your case today by calling (850) 681-7777 or leaving us an online message on our website.
Written by Karissa Key