NJ lawyer charged in string of Boston rapes
Matthew Nilo, 35, pleaded not guilty to charges in nine alleged attacks on eight women over 10 years ago. Prosecutors said he would allegedly attack women who were alone late at night.
A New York City gastroenterologist is accused of sexually abusing unconscious patients and drugging and raping women at his home in attacks that were filmed, authorities said.
Zhi Alan Cheng, 33, allegedly assaulted women at the Flushing, Queens, location of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, where he worked, the Queens District Attorney’s Office said.
NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the nation’s most prominent health care systems whose hospitals rank among the country’s best, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Cheng is also accused of assaulting women at his Astoria, Queens, apartment and inside hotel rooms in Westchester County, Manhattan, Las Vegas, in and around San Francisco and in Thailand.
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Zhi Cheng appears at his Supreme Court arraignment in Queens Monday, Aug. 7, 2023. Cheng, a gastroenterologist, is charged with rape, sexual assault and other charges. At right is his lawyer, Jeffrey Einhorn. (Jefferson Siegel)
“The recovered evidence compiled paints the picture of a sexual predator of the absolute worst kind, a serial rapist, someone willing to not only violate his sacred professional oath and patients’ trust, but every standard of human decency as well,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz wrote in a press release.
Cheng has been jailed without bond at Riker’s Island since his Dec. 27 arrest. On Monday, he was arraigned on a 50-count indictment charging him with 10 counts of predatory sexual assault, three counts of first-degree rape, seven counts of first-degree sexual abuse, four counts of second-degree assault, three counts of first-degree criminal sexual act, 11 counts of second-degree unlawful surveillance, eight counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and four counts of fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
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Cheng was charged in a previous 11-count indictment after his arrest Dec. 27, 2022, with two counts of first-degree rape, first-degree criminal sexual act, two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of first-degree sexual abuse and four counts of second-degree unlawful surveillance.
He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him.
NewYork-Presbyterian Queens Hospital in Flushing, N.Y., during the coronavirus pandemic in April 2020. (John Nacion/NurPhoto/Alamy)
“We recognize that the charges are incredibly serious. However, we have not had the opportunity to review the evidence with our client and, for that reason, we are unable to discuss the charges,” said a representative for the law office of Jeffrey Lichtman, which is representing Cheng.
Cheng graduated from Albany Medical School in 2016 and received his New York medical license in June 2020, according to state records.
Investigators said they seized a slew of narcotics, including fentanyl, ketamine, cocaine, LSD and MDMA from his apartment. Sedation drugs, including sevoflurane in a brown bottle that appeared in the background of numerous videos, were also seized.
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Some recorded assaults allegedly featured women he met on dating sites; others took place in a hospital setting.
In one video from June 2021, Cheng can be seen touching an unconscious 19-year-old patient’s genitals and nipples, then pulling up one of her closed eyelids, the DA’s office said.
Zhi Cheng appears at his Supreme Court arraignment in Queens Monday, Aug. 7, 2023. Cheng, a physician, is charged with rape, sexual assault and other charges. (Jefferson Siegel)
A 37-year-old and a “seriously ill” 47-year-old patient were assaulted similarly at the Flushing medical center, with Cheng allegedly “insert[ing] an ungloved finger into [the] mouth” of the latter woman, officials said.
Adam Slater, an attorney who is representing Cheng’s alleged 19-year-old victim and who secured a $71.5 million settlement for the 79 victims of NewYork-Presbyterian gynecologist Robert A. Hadden in 2021, said the sexual abuse at the hospital system was “not isolated, but systemic.”
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In Cheng’s case, Slater wrote that his firm “[has] evidence that the hospital system knew [his] client had been sexually assaulted and conspired to cover it up, never disclosing the incident to the victim or police” and “permitted Dr. Cheng to continue to treat [his] client after the assault and employed him for nearly a year after.”
However, a NewYork-Presbyterian spokesperson told Fox News Digital the hospital fired Cheng and banned him from hospital property “as soon as the district attorney made us aware of allegations of sexual abuse against this individual” in December 2022; he had worked there since June 2020.
The spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement the hospital has “numerous patient safety policies and protocols in place” and has been working “to identify any opportunities for further strengthening” these policies. Additional training for all employees will be “immediately implemented.
“The crimes committed by this individual are heinous, despicable and a fundamental betrayal of our mission and our patients’ trust,” the spokesperson wrote.
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Slater wrote that “there is every reason to believe that [Cheng] sexually assaulted other patients and people. The law firm and the Queens District Attorney’s Office are urging additional victims to come forward.
Anyone with information can contact the DA’s office at 718-286-6505, or [email protected].
Christina Coulter is a U.S. and World reporter for Fox News Digital. Email story tips to [email protected].