The longtime local doctor recently arrested on suspicion of sexual assault of a patient in Chico has been on the Hazel Hawkins Memorial staff for over 25 years, but he’s not an employee and does not have contracted services through the hospital.
Dr. Annamalai Ashokan was arrested Jan. 31 at his Chico office on Jan Court. Ashokan, age 65 and an anesthesiologist, has his main office in Hollister. He is on the hospital medical staff but he has his pain management office at 581 McCray St., Ste. E.
It wasn’t the first time Ashokan has had trouble with the law for sexually related issues, either. The California Medical Board in 2000 placed him on five years of probation for inappropriate sexual contact with a patient. He also had to surrender his license to practice allopathic medicine in Arizona in response to the California action.
Reacting to his recent arrest, meanwhile, Hazel Hawkins Director of Marketing and Public Relations Frankie Gallagher clarified Ashokan is not an employee or contracted through the hospital. She said he has a private practice and is not part of any affiliated surgical services groups for his specialty.
As part of the medical staff, he merely has the right to practice at the hospital and see patients there.
“And when he does have patients here, he is not alone by a patient by himself,” Gallagher said, noting how surgical staff members are present with him.
She said “occasionally” he will do a procedure at the hospital but that it’s rare. She noted he had no restrictions to practice at the time of the recent arrest.
“They go through a credentialing process, and they get recredentialed every few years,” Gallagher said. “They go through the medical board to make sure there’s no outstanding blemishes on their record basically.”
She was aware of the incident two decades ago, but mentioned how it had been remedied with sanctions through the California Medical Board.
“Again, we can’t sanction somebody based on allegations,” Gallagher said of the Chico matter. “That is up to the law enforcement and the judicial process to determine. Then that’s up to the California Medical Board how they handle his license. We will act appropriately based on any recommendations that come from the California Medical Board.”
According to documents filed by the Arizona board in its suspension order detailing the California board’s findings, Ashokan in the incident about 20 years ago invited a patient to his home and touched her inappropriately. The document notes that he was charged and convicted in San Benito County of a misdemeanor for sexual exploitation of a patient/client and pleaded no contest.
That same document noted that Ashokan suggested to the patient that in order for their relationship to continue at the time, she would have to write and backdate a letter discharging him from her care.
As for the Chico arrest last week, police released a statement that described the following:
On Jan. 31, Chico police detectives arrested Dr. Annamalai Ashokan at his Chico office on Jan Ct. Detectives initiated an investigation after it was alleged that Dr. Ashokan had sexually assaulted a female patient during a medical procedure. After a lengthy investigation, Detectives obtained evidence to establish enough probably cause to arrest Dr. Ashokan for the sexual assault. At this point, there is no information about any other potential victims. Dr. Ashokan only has office hours in Chico every other week. His main office is in the City of Hollister. Detectives have been in communication with investigators with the State of California’s Division of Investigation|Health Quality Investigation Unit who oversee medical licensing investigations.
Dr. Ashokan was arrested for a single count of felony sexual assault and booked at the jail.
Ashokan was not available when San Benito Live phoned his office and left him a message.