A Frederick pediatrician charged with raping a female patient must come up with $100,000 fully secured bail before his release, a judge ordered Wednesday.
Judge Julia Martz-Fisher set the bail during a hearing in the case of Dr. Ernesto Torres, 68, against the wishes of the Frederick County State's Attorney's Office which asked that he be held without bail. Torres' attorney asked that he be released on his own recognizance.
If he can secure the $100,000 bail, Torres will be released on home detention through the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office. He will not be allowed any unsupervised contact with minors or patients, but Martz-Fisher will allow the medical board to determine if Torres can practice as the case goes through judicial proceedings.
Under home detention, Torres will be allowed to attend work, medical and religious appointments, Martz-Fisher said.
Assistant State's Attorney Tammy Leache asked for Torres to be held without bail during the hearing. She said that there are 11 active investigations, some which date back 30 years, that are now ongoing. The additional investigations began after Torres' arrest was announced Tuesday.
There are no additional charges from those investigations as of Wednesday, Leache said. Martz-Fisher said she would only consider the case for which charges had been filed when making her decision.
Torres was arrested Tuesday after he allegedly sexually assaulted an 18-year-old patient. The Frederick Police Department began an investigation on April 26.
A female patient, who had seen Torres since she was a child, reported that she visited Torres for a follow-up appointment about medication. During the appointment, she had an anxiety attack, prompting Torres to give her a physical examination, Leache said during the hearing.
During the examination, Torres allegedly put his hand down the patient's pants and touched her for several minutes, during which the patient was fearful and felt she could not leave, Leache said.
When Torres spoke to police, he corroborated the patient's statement and said that he was touching her pelvic area for one to two minutes, Leache said. Torres attempted to clarify his statement during the bail hearing but was advised by his attorney, Richard Bricken, to not speak.
Torres' sister and his office manager were present at the hearing. His office manager confirmed during the hearing that she or another female staff member would be in the room when Torres saw a patient. His sister declined to comment.
Torres said he has a green card and has not left the country since he began practicing. According to his practice's website, he started practicing in Frederick in 1979. He is part of the community, and many of the Hispanic children in the county come to his practice as he is bilingual.
"I would never leave my practice," he said during the hearing.
During the hearing, he expressed concern for a Spanish-speaking patient who recently underwent a medical procedure. Torres said he worried that he would not be seen by another Spanish-speaking doctor. Torres' sister told Martz-Fisher that she received calls from concerned mothers and the Hispanic community needed Torres.
Leache argued that given the charges against Torres, he should not practice medicine, but Martz-Fisher elected to leave that to the medical board.
In a press release, Frederick County State's Attorney Charlie Smith said that his office is investigating each of the 11 cases to determine if additional charges will be filed. He encouraged anyone with information to go to the authorities. Detective Sean McKinney can be reached at 240-578-5683.
Smith said he and his office is disappointed that a bail was set in the case, but he respects the judge's decision.
"We believe based on the allegations that Dr. Torres poses a significant threat to the public, which is why we requested he be held without bond," Smith said in the statement.
The state's attorney's office is working closely with the Frederick Police Department on the additional investigations. If there is sufficient evidence to go forward with charges, Frederick Police could file charges or the state's attorney's office could take it to a grand jury, Smith said.
Bricken, who is representing Torres, did not respond to a call for comment.
Torres is charged with second-degree rape, second-degree assault and fourth-degree sexual offense. He was indicted by a grand jury on May 3. Attorney Lindell Angel, with the Frederick County State's Attorney's Office, presented the case before the grand jury.