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7:18 AM Mon, Dec. 17th

Case against doctor may be remanded to grand jury

KINGMAN - A decision on whether a case against a Kingman doctor will be remanded to the grand jury will be decided in the next few weeks.

Although Dr. Ilangovan Govindarajan may not be immediately aware of the decision due to the fact that he is out of the country.

Commissioner Lee Jantzen granted a request to allow Govindarajan to take an annual trip to visit relatives and friends in India last week.

Govindarajan is charged with 32 counts of sexual abuse and aggravated assault.

He is accused of inappropriately touching female employees.

Jantzen heard arguments Aug. 15 from both the County Attorney's Office and Govindarajan's attorneys on whether the case should be remanded.

Govindarajan's attorneys argued their client was "denied substantial procedural rights to an unbiased grand jury."

Govindarajan's attorneys allege that the prosecuting attorney did not properly admonish the grand jury as to bias from media coverage of the case.

The prosecuting attorney also allegedly allowed witnesses to give inflammatory and irrelevant information about whether Govindarajan was married and if any of the alleged victims were married.

His attorneys also allege that a detective who testified during the grand jury proceedings was allowed to vouch for the alleged victims.

A grand juror apparently asked if any of the alleged victims had told their husbands or boyfriends about the incidents with Govindarajan.

According to Govindarajan's attorneys, the detective told the grand jury that the alleged victims were afraid to tell their husbands or boyfriends about what happened because they did not know how they would react.

They also allege that bias was produced when the prosecutor brought the second indictment against Govindarajan before the same grand jury.

After indicting Govindarajan on the first 18 counts of sexual abuse and aggravated assault, the grand jury would have felt obligated to indict him on seven additional charges of sexual abuse, six charges of aggravated assault and one misdemeanor charge of assault.

His attorneys allege that the grand jury could not accurately determine what biases the alleged victims might have against Govindarajan or if grand jury members might have connections to the victims because the prosecuting attorney used the victims' initials instead of their full names.

They also allege that the prosecuting attorney interfered with the grand jury's right to inquire. According to Govindarajan's attorneys a grand jury asked if Kingman Regional Medical Center had a procedure by which an employee could report abuse. The prosecuting attorney allegedly directed the witness not to answer the question, however, the prosecuting attorney later solicited information about the hospital's investigation into the situation from witnesses.

Govindarajan's attorneys also pointed to a discrepancy in the grand jury record as a possible reason to remand the case. According to his attorney's motion, the record shows 14 jurors at the beginning of the procedure. One juror excused herself due to possible bias, that left 13, but according to the records, 12 jurors signed the true bill to indict Govindarajan.

The County Attorney's Office states in its response that any flaws in the office's presentation to the grand jury did not rise to the level of creating prejudice against Govindarajan.

The office also points out that the grand jury was properly admonished against bias and that bias due to media coverage is included in that admonishment. They also state that intense media coverage is not uncommon on such cases and jurors are aware of that.

They also state it is not uncommon to use only the initials of alleged victims in grand jury cases in order to protect the identity of the alleged victims. It does not impair the grand jury's ability to determine the facts of a case.

It is also not uncommon for a grand jury to hear more than one case against a defendant, the office said.

The jurors that were in the room during the decision to indict Govindarajan had already professed that they could do so impartially, and there were enough jurors to sign a true bill.

The office also states that the information and questions posed to witnesses about Govindarajan and the alleged victims' marital status were not misleading, inflammatory or irrelevant.

And whether or not the hospital had a policy on reporting abuse did not change the fact that Govindarajan may have committed illegal acts against some of his employees.

Jantzen will rule on the matter in the next few weeks.

If the case is not remanded to the grand jury, a hearing will be held on Sept. 19.