VISTA (CNS) - An Oceanside physician who sexually assaulted five female patients referred by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was sentenced Thursday to three years probation and was ordered to register as a sex offender and surrender his medical license.
Dr. Edgar Manzanera, 39, could face three years in state prison if he violates the terms of his probation.
Manzanera, who was contracted by the VA to review pension disability claims, pleaded guilty last September to one count of sexual exploitation by a physician for acts committed in 2015 and 2016, and admitted a special allegation of committing acts against multiple victims.
Four counts of sexual penetration with a foreign object were dismissed as part of the plea.
"The victims placed the defendant in a position of inherent trust and confidence and the defendant betrayed that trust," Deputy District Attorney Claudia Plascencia said when Manzanera pleaded guilty. "The victims allowed the defendant access to the most intimate parts of their body and he, in turn, under the guise of medical evaluations, performed unnecessary gynecological evaluations and inappropriate touching against these victims."
The plea deal allows Manzanera to travel to Guatemala, where he also holds citizenship, but prosecutors said he will have to obtain approval from the probation department each time he leaves the country.
Manzanera's June 2018 arrest came two days before one of his former patients filed lawsuits in state and federal court against him, the VA and his former employer, QTC Medical Services.
"After the sexual assault, I cannot stand to be touched. My relationship crumbled, other than a small group of friends, I avoid people because I don't trust them," Joe Doe #4 told the court. "I've lost the basic belief in the goodness of people."
The lawsuits filed in Vista and Arizona assert that Manzanera committed sexual battery against the plaintiff and falsely imprisoned her inside a clinic in Oceanside in 2016 while he was alone with her in an examination room.
Although there was no medical reason for her to get naked, the veteran said Manzanera had her take off her clothes and lift a medical gown over her head until she couldn't see what he was doing, according to the lawsuit.