An attorney for Dr. Alireza “Ali” Sadeghi urged an Orleans Parish judge on Monday to determine what, if any, photographs found on electronics seized from the New Orleans breast surgeon contain child pornography — an allegation prosecutors lobbed last week after Sadeghi was indicted on rape and video voyeurism counts.
Defense attorney Michael Magner told Criminal District Court Judge Laurie White that the allegations Sadeghi kept child pornography and secretly shot naked photos of his patients during surgery were designed only to “shame and humiliate” the doctor.
“Just saying it doesn’t make it so,” Magner said of the child porn claims. Sadeghi has not been charged with any crimes involving child pornography.
Magner asked White to review photos he said will show Sadeghi playing with his own children. Magner asked to have the evidence “quarantined” so White can make an early determination on whether they amount to child porn.
Federal law bars prosecutors from copying such images for defense attorneys.
White agreed to order District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office to copy the evidence for the court by Tuesday and reveal by next week just what images prosecutors are alleging to be criminal.
Sadeghi did not appear at Monday’s court hearing, but Magner contended that the alleged child porn actually consists of photos Sadeghi took of his own children, some taken at bath time.
“We believe what the evidence is going to show is pictures of … the defendant’s own children as toddlers,” Magner said. “There’s nothing prurient about it, nothing lascivious.”
Magner also said the photos of Sadeghi’s patients were “purely clinical and appropriate.”
Sadeghi, 40, who is known for his work with breast cancer patients, pleaded not guilty last week to rape and video voyeurism charges. He is accused of sexually assaulting and videotaping sex with a woman between 2011 to 2014.
Sadeghi and his accuser have been locked in a domestic civil dispute, and his attorneys claim the criminal indictment stems from a civil court judge’s rejection of the same claims.
Prosecutors, however, say Sadeghi’s criminal wrongdoing goes well beyond a domestic squabble.
They filed notice last week of their intention to introduce evidence of similar crimes — including the photos and other allegations that Sadeghi acted improperly toward children.
An August search of the doctor’s electronics, they said, found photos of naked young children as well as full-body snapshots of Sadeghi’s patients while in surgery.
Cannizzaro’s office said Sadeghi took those latter photos “surreptitiously,” then emailed them to himself. “These images show the patient’s bodies including their faces, breasts and vaginas,” the notice states.
Assistant District Attorney Jason Napoli said last week that some of the naked child photos include animals. The photos “demonstrated that, a little bit, there was some type of harm going on to these children,” Napoli said.
Magner claims prosecutors are seeking to inflict “the maximum amount of damage to this man’s reputation.”
He accused prosecutors of maliciously having Sadeghi arrested and booked last week when he came into court to surrender on the indictment, rather than letting him appear first before White for arraignment.
Sadeghi made his first court appearance last week wearing an orange jail jumpsuit.
White has set an August trial date for Sadeghi. Last week, the judge reduced his bail from $2 million to $200,000.
White last week issued a protective order barring Sadeghi from contact with the woman but denied a similar order regarding Sadeghi’s children. An appeals court overturned her decision regarding the children.
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