Doctor pleads guilty to sexually assaulting patients

VISTA, Calif.  — An Oceanside physician pleaded guilty Wednesday to sexually assaulting and exploiting five female patients referred by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

On the day his trial was scheduled to begin, Dr. Edgar Manzanera, 39, entered into a plea deal in which he will be sentenced on Nov. 20 to three years probation. He will also have to register as a sex offender and surrender his medical license.

Manzanera, who was contracted by the VA to review pension disability claims, admitted one count of sexual exploitation by a physician for acts committed in 2015 and 2016. Four counts of sexual penetration with a foreign object were dismissed as part of the plea.

Had he gone to trial and been convicted as charged, Manzanera would have faced nearly 15 years in prison, according to prosecutors.

“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. “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 victims wanted justice, and today, they received justice.”

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.

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 his 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.

The doctor, who posted $150,000 bail following his arrest last year, remains out of custody pending sentencing.

A judge previously ordered the defendant not to practice medicine or provide any patient care as a condition of his bail. The plea deal will allow Manzanera to travel out of the county to Guatemala, where he also holds citizenship. Prosecutors said he will have to obtain approval from the probation department each time he leaves the country.

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