More accusers take the stand in sexual assault trial against Conway doctor

Dr. Robert Rook walks hand-in-hand with his wife returning for the second day of testimony in the sexual assault trial against him. (Photo: KATV)

Prosecutors called six witnesses in the second day of testimony in the sexual assault trial against Conway primary care physician Dr. Robert Rook on Wednesday.

Rook, hand in hand with his wife, returned to the Faulkner County courthouse around 8:30; court reconvened for day three of the trial at 9:00 AM.

Witnesses called by the prosecution on Wednesday included a former employee of Rook, a Conway Police detective and four former Rook patients that all claim their were sexually assaulted by the general practitioner.

Rook's former employee, who was employed with the doctor for ten years, was called to the stand to testify about procedure at the clinic. The medical assistant said she was generally present when things like breast exams and pelvic exams were conducted on women. She also testified that the clinic's exam rooms were equipped with locks, which she claimed was not normal practice at other medical facilities she's worked at.

The first patient called to the stand on Wednesday was a woman from Vilonia who said she went to Dr. Rook for a referral for neck surgery due to injuries sustained in a car wreck. The patient, the fourth to testify so far in the trial, said she thought it was odd when she was asked to undress and put on a gown for a simple referral.

At the patient's consultation, she said Rook came into the examination room unaccompanied. Rook allegedly started feeling her spine, the woman's gown eventually falling off which is when she said Rook came around to her front and started feeling her breasts, subsequently asking when the last time she had a pap smear was. The woman said the encounter felt, "uncomfortable and strange" - Rook "squeezing and feeling" her breasts.

The fifth patient to testify in the trial was an older woman from Conway. She said she had been seeing Rook for several years, but when she had gone in for a follow-up appointment with Rook after having gallbladder surgery she claims Rook gave her a breast exam and never explained what the purpose of the examination was for.

Patient #6 was a short-time Greenbrier resident who now lives in Texas. Her testimony was likely the most emotional jurors have seen thus far in the trial, the woman shedding tears when she revealed the reason she started seeing Rook was for mental health issues due to her daughter committing suicide.

The woman said Rook referred her to a therapist, but because it was so expensive she couldn't continue going and asked him for help. Patient #6 testified that Rook said he could counsel her. Their first counseling session started off with questions about her medications, but eventually ended up with a breast exam and vaginal exam. While she thought it was odd, the woman said "he was my doctor and I trusted him."

She would go back three more times - the woman now questioning why she was being asked to do another breast and vaginal exam the very next week. She said the second time he didn't wear a glove during the vaginal exam and it was conducted while she was standing up, she testified. The third time she brought a friend to an appointment where nothing ended up happening.

The fourth time she asked her ex-husband to accompany her but he couldn't make the appointment. It was during the fourth visit that Patient #6 said Rook once again asked her to undress and conducted the vaginal exam where no tool except his hand was used; this time she said he "massaged her clitoris." She told jurors it was pretty clear at that point "what was happening - he was molesting me."

Patient #7 was a middle-aged mom from Pottsville who had been seeing Rook since he delivered her son in the mid 1990s. But when Patient #7 went to be seen by Rook for a severe lower abdominal burning pain in May 2014, she said she ended up receiving both a vaginal and breast exam. She testified the breast exam she received "left her in shock" and was unlike any other breast exam she had received from Rook in the past.

Three of the four former patients who testified on Wednesday admitted to attorneys that they didn't come forward with their allegations to police until they had heard about similar accusations in the news. When asked why they decided they needed to come forward, they said they had to tell their story. Some said they were too in shock or thought it was simply common procedure when processing the encounters after they had happened.

The Rook trial resumes at the Faulkner County Courthouse on Thursday at 9:00 AM.

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