Police Begin Sex-Crime Investigation Against Doctor

PARMA, Ohio (AP) - Police have dropped a sexual battery charge against a prominent gynecologist, but say they plan to launch a three-county sex crime investigation.

Dr. Azzam Ahmed, of Moreland Hills, was arrested in August after a woman claimed he kissed her during an exam. Since then, more than 75 former and current patients have told police Ahmed sexually harassed or molested them during exams at his offices in Cuyahoga, Summit and Geauga counties, said Parma police spokesman Bill Mauer.

"We think this is only the tip of the iceberg," he said.

Ahmed, the chairman of the Parma Community General Hospital, has continuously denied wrongdoing.

"I have never shamed my practice," he said in August. "I'm innocent, like clean ice."

Mauer said police dropped the battery charge to buy time to investigate the other claims. Ahmed had been scheduled to appear at a hearing in Parma Municipal Court on Tuesday.

Instead, police plan to present their research to a Cuyahoga County grand jury in a few months.

His wife Afnan has theorized that the woman who brought forth the sexual battery charge wanted to sue her husband.

Ahmed's lawyer, Gerald Messerman, accused Parma police of trying their best to humiliate Ahmed.

By revealing an ongoing investigation of his client, he said the police released "poisonous and libelous information without any investigation whatsoever."

Ahmed, a Palestinian born in Jerusalem, has practices in Parma, Twinsberg and Newbury Township. He is chief of gynecology at Parma Community General Hospital and a division chief of gynecology at South Pointe Hospital, and he also has privileges at Deaconess Hospital and University/Bedford Hospital.

In his free time, he is active at the Islamic Center of Cleveland in Parma. He has said in court records that his work and faith take up nearly all of his time.

The August accusation was not the first sexual allegation against Ahmed. One case was settled, another was withdrawn and another was ruled in Ahmed's favor.

Parma's two detectives who investigate sex crimes will coordinate the three-county investigation, and a patrolman will help sort the information, Mauer said.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)