Florida Psychiatrist Iftikhar Rasul Prohibited from Treating Female Patients; Misdemeanor Battery Charge Pending

April 12, 2023

An Orlando psychiatrist has been prohibited from treating female patients after multiple women accused him of sexual assault, according to an emergency order by the Florida Department of Health.

In the license restriction order signed by Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo on April 5, DOH said it will conduct a formal proceeding to discipline Dr. Iftikhar Rasul.

“Rasul willfully abused his position of power in order to sexually assault multiple patients under his care who trusted him to act professionally and in their best interests,” the order said. “Rasul’s repeated and predatory actions indicate that Dr. Rasul lacks to good judgment and moral character necessary to be a physician.”

Rasul, 56, is the founder and medical director of Serene Behavioral Health, located in the Metro West area of Orlando. He specializes in treating adults suffering from anxiety and depression, according to his website.

In each case, Rasul allegedly groped his patients under the guise of a medical procedure, like checking their heart rate or blood pressure.

A woman in June 2019 accused Rasul of inappropriately touching her while supposedly taking her blood pressure, according to the DOH license restriction. He had treated the woman since November 2017 after she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Rasul is also accused of assaulting another woman in November 2020 while using his stethoscope to check her heart rate. The woman, who had been treated by Rasul for depression for over two years, told Orlando police officers the doctor had never before checked her heart rate. No court or arrest records could be found in connection with this case.

An administrative complaint was filed by DOH in January 2021 in connection with the June 2019 assault allegation. The complaint requested the Florida Board of Medicine punish Rasul with a restriction of his practice, a fine or some other corrective action. The complaint also put Rasul’s employees “on notice of [his] deviant behavior,” according to DOH’s emergency order.

In October 2021, Rasul was deposed in Orange County and provided sworn testimony denying the multiple allegations. In addition to saying he never inappropriately touched his patients, he said he never used a stethoscope in his practice.

“The blood pressure cuff that I use is automatic and does not require a stethoscope,” he said, according to records filed in Orange County Circuit Court. “I do not recall a single instance when I used a stethoscope on any patient.”

Less than a year later, he was accused of assaulting another woman while supposedly checking her heart rate. The woman reported the incident to the Orlando Police Department on Oct. 3, the same day it occurred, court records said.

Investigators soon discovered the two previous allegations against Rasul, including the one reported to the police department. In November, he was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor battery charge. The case is still pending.

“The fact that Dr. Rasul engaged in similar behavior over the course of three separate offenses involving three different patients who were unfamiliar with each other, makes the testimony of the three patients that much more credible,” the arrest affidavit said. “The act of grabbing or touching ... a person in the same manner is too similar to be contrived by three different victims, to include the same or similar method and approach used by Dr. Rasul.”

An attorney representing Rasul declined to comment on the case.

Source: Christopher Cann, “Orlando psychiatrist’s practice restricted after sexual assault allegations,” Orlando Sentinel, Apr. 11, 2023, URL: https://news.yahoo.com/orlando-psychiatrist-arrested-sexual-assault-180700152.html  


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