A Reseda doctor arrested under suspicion of sexual assault will be in court at the end of the month to answer to charges. The doctor, Michael Howard Popkin, is suspected of sexually assaulting multiple female patients during medical examinations over the course of 10 years. Dr. Popkin has been practicing medicine in California since 1977, and police believe that there may be more victims out there. The alleged crimes for which Popkin was arrested for occurred between June 2014 and July 2015.
The doctor was arrested on December 5th at his medical office and posted $65,000 bail December 6th. He has commented that the allegations are not true.
Sexual assault is covered under California Penal Code 243.4 PC and is described as touching the intimate parts of another person, against the other person’s will, for the purpose of sexual gratification, arousal, or abuse. Sexual assault can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case.
For misdemeanor charges typically occur when no aggravating circumstances are applicable. The penalties for misdemeanor sexual assault include up to 6 months in county jail, a fine of up to $2,000 (or $3,000 if the victim was the perpetrator’s employee), summary probation for up to 5 years, and mandatory registration as a sex offender.
The crime can be upgraded to a felony if certain circumstances are associated with the case. For example, if the sexual assault occurs when the victim is unlawfully-restrained, is incapacitated, institutionalized, disabled, or if the accused fraudulently convinces the patient that the touching serves a medical purpose. When any of these factors are present, it’s possible (but not necessarily guaranteed) that the crime can be upgraded to a felony. If any aggravating circumstances are present, and the crime is still charged as a misdemeanor, the penalties are the same as stated above. If charged as a felony, the potential penalties include formal probation, up to 5 years in California state prison, a maximum fine of $10,000 and/or mandatory registration as a sex offender.