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UPDATED at 7 p.m., Aug. 29
Hudson — The jury believed the doctor’s defense that patients mistook bottles in his pocket for genitalia.
A jury of eight men and four women Aug. 29 found former osteopathic doctor James P. Bressi, 60, of Hudson not guilty of 26 of the 27 indictments against him, including two counts of rape, 13 counts of gross sexual imposition and 11 counts of sexual imposition against 10 women.
He was found guilty of one sexual imposition charge, a third-degree misdemeanor with a possible penalty of $500 and up to 60 days in jail. He treated the female victim at Summa Pain Specialists in Stow, which he owned and operated at the time. During otheopathic manipulative treatment, she testified Bressi placed her arm along the side of her body and pressed his genitalia in her upturned hand.
Judge Tom Parker is scheduled to sentence Bressi Oct. 7 at 1 p.m. Bressi also will be required to register as a Tier I Sexual Offender every year for the next 15 years.
Bressi’s defense attorney, Michael T. Callahan, said Bressi’s plans were to spend the weekend with his family.
“He and his family have been through a lot,” Callahan said. “He’s going to go on with his life now.”
More than 100 women came forward describing inappropriate sexual conduct by Bressi during pain management treatments from 2010-2013, according to Summit County Prosecuting Attorney Sherri Bevan Walsh. Eleven victims testified against him at his trial. During treatments, Bressi was accused of rubbing his genitalia on the victims or touching them inappropriately. Two women claimed digital (finger) penetration.
“Based on the evidence presented in court, we are shocked at the verdict in this case,” Walsh said. “Our concern right now is for the numerous victims who came forward, and we commend them for their courage in doing so. We will continue to aggressively prosecute individuals who commit sexual assaults in this community, regardless of their profession or status in society.”
After the trial, Callahan spoke to a juror who told him every time they talked about an individual count or an individual part of the case, another juror came up with another scenario as a possible explanation, and that created reasonable doubt for them.
“Overall, Dr. Bressi and his testimony were very convincing,” Callahan said. “It think it was a reasonable doubt issue.”
The courtroom appeared stunned when Bressi, during his testimony for his defense, removed two four-inch bottles with tapered tops from his left pant pocket and placed them on the witness stand. He claimed those objects were mistaken for his genitalia by the women.
“In summary session, my prosecutor Margaret Scott spoke with the jury extensively afterwards to try to gain some type of understanding for how they came out with a not guilty verdict in this case,” Walsh said. “The bottom line is this jury believed his defense that the women were feeling the bottles in his pockets.”
The prosecution is not permitted to appeal a not guilty verdict, but the defense could appeal Bressi’s guilty verdict on the sexual imposition count, Walsh said.
A non-guilty finding in a criminal case does not affect a civil case and is different, Walsh said. The standard of proof in a criminal case is “beyond a reasonable doubt” but the proof in a civil case is a “preponderance of the evidence” or “more likely than not” that he committed these acts.
They would have to wait until after sentencing to decide whether to appeal the case, Callahan said.
“I think there are grounds for the appeal,” Callahan added.
Several civil suits, some with multiple plaintiffs, are filed against Bressi in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas.
Callahan, who won’t be representing Bressi in the civil suit cases, said there are about a half a dozen cases or more with more than 75 plaintiffs, which have been consolidated and will be handled by one judge.
Bressi has filed a lawsuit on his behalf to get his business back or be compensated for it, Callahan said.
Facebook: Laura Freeman, Record Publishing