St. John's doctor guilty Monday of 12 of 18 charges he supplied patients with prescription drugs in
(Thanks to Judy O. for the article)
Published: Monday, December 10, 2007
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - A jury found a St. John's doctor guilty Monday of 12 of 18 charges he supplied patients with prescription drugs in exchange for sex.
The court found Buckingham guilty of five counts of sexual assault and one count of assault and not guilty on four sexual assault charges. He was also convicted on six drug trafficking charges and acquitted of two other drug trafficking charges.
Buckingham showed no reaction when the verdict was handed down. Following the verdict, he was taken into custody. He will be sentenced Dec. 20. Nearly two dozen witnesses testified during the trial, including a number of complainants who alleged Dr. Sean Buckingham sexually assaulted them.
One woman testified Buckingham, 47, tied her to a tree, beat her with a branch and sodomized her. Another said he asked her for oral sex while her seven-month old daughter was on her lap. A witness also said Buckingham agreed to write her a prescription for painkillers, but only if he could have half.
Throughout the seven-week trial, witnesses told the court the incidents happened in Buckingham's office, his home and his vehicle, sometimes after he picked them up at narcotics anonymous meetings.
At the time of his arrest two years ago, Buckingham was under police surveillance "from dawn to dusk." Police recorded more than 3,000 phone calls during which the doctor occasionally spoke to people about "candy bars" and "cigarettes."
The Crown said the items were code for drugs, in particular the highly addictive drug OxyContin, known as "hillbilly heroin."
Buckingham denied the allegations, claiming that when he spoke in code on the phone it was because he knew police were listening in. However, he admitted trying to obtain some OxyContin for his drug-addicted fiancee.
"A drug trafficker isn't just someone selling drugs on a street corner," said prosecutor John Brooks. "It's someone who offers drugs in exchange for something else, like sex."
But in closing arguments, defence lawyer Randy Piercey said the accusations were simply untrue.
Piercey said many of the complainants in the case were drug abusers who had convinced more than one doctor to write them prescriptions.
"If you're capable of doing that kind of fooling, then you're pretty good at fooling people," he told the jury.
Piercey noted one of the witnesses testified Buckingham never hurt her, but earlier told police he had sexually assaulted her with a sex toy. "If you're telling the truth, that's not something you're going to forget," the lawyer said.
Piercey called Buckingham a "consistent and credible witness," and noted his client did not back down during testimony on the stand.
Police first arrested Buckingham in May 2005. But it took two years for the case to reach trial, with two previous attempts to prosecute Buckingham ending in mistrial.
Buckingham had faced 23 charges initially, but the number was reduced to 18 midway through the trial due to lack of evidence to back the counts.
The case was heard before Justice James Adams.
The jury began deliberations last Wednesday.
Deliberations were interrupted on Sunday when a juror became ill. The jury returned to work the next day with all members present.
With files from the St. John's Telegram
'Neversink River Catskill Mountains