ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- A gynecologist pleaded guilty Monday to charges that he raped five patients on the examining table.
Dr. Burton K. Ake, 43, who had an Anchorage medical practice, had been scheduled to face trial on sexual assault charges but changed his innocent pleas to guilty and was taken into custody after the hearing.
Ake faces a jail term of eight to 40 years and a fine of up to $125, 000.
Superior Court Judge Joan Katz ordered a presentence report and said she would sentence the doctor in August.
By pleading guilty, Ake gave up his right to trial and any appeal. But the doctor's decision to plead guilty was especially significant because by doing so he also dropped his claim that rape charges required force and that he used no force.
The gynecologist assaulted his patients, who were conscious, while they were on the examining table with a cloth draped over them, obscuring his actions, but leaving the patients feeling that something wrong was happening.
Ake claimed through his lawyer that he could not be charged with rape because he did not force his victims to have sex. The judge, in pretrial rulings, rejected the defense move to have the charges dismissed, setting the stage for trial.
But Ake dropped his planned legal battle, admitted the charges in court and even admitted assaulting a woman who was not part of the indictment.
Prosecutor Valerie Van Brocklin said that since 1987 the gynecologist raped five women patients and fondled another.
Separate first-degree sexual assault charges were consolidated into one charge for the change of plea; the other incident was a second- degree sexual assault. In pleading guilty, Ake also admitted sexually assaulting another patient in a 1985 incident omitted from the criminal complaint because of the statute of limitations.
Ake's victims have filed civil suits against the doctor.