Dr. Ricardo Arze and sex abuse cases shows disconnect between law enforcement, state regulators of doctors

Dr. Ricardo Arze mug provided the Cook County Sheriff's Press Office

"In the Hispanic community we don't like to make a big deal out of things," she said. "Opening up about something like that is one of the hardest things you can do."

The officer told the woman an investigator would contact her, but months turned into years with no word.

Police did not share the allegation with the state's attorney's office at the time, Daly said.

Jim Ritz, chief of Berwyn police, declined to answer questions about the cases.

There was no contact until fall 2007, when police arrested Arze on charges of sexually assaulting and battering patients. The state simultaneously suspended his license.

William Kushner, then chief of police, told reporters at the time the initial charges were the result of a two-month investigation by detectives and state investigators.

Patient complaints lodged with police in June and July 2007 were among the original battery charges, records show. In August and September, a Cook County sheriff's officer posed as a patient at Arze's private practice and encountered sexual advances from him, said sheriff's spokesman Steve Patterson.

After Arze's arrest made news, the charges against him multiplied — in court and with the state, painting a picture of a chronic sex abuser who allegedly preyed on vulnerable patients suffering from depression.

Among the allegations in court and state records:

•Starting in November 2004, Arze allegedly fondled the breasts of a recently divorced patient seeking treatment for depression, forced his fingers inside her and kissed her neck. She screamed, but no one came.

•In March 2005, he allegedly asked a patient to remove her clothes without providing a gown, fondled her, pushed her onto the exam table and instructed her to keep quiet while he raped her.

•In September 2007, he pulled down his pants and exposed himself to a patient, asked her to touch him and made lewd comments as she left the room, according to court records.

The 2003 allegation resulted in a 2008 felony sexual assault charge against Arze. It and the 2005 allegation also were included in a 2007 complaint filed by the state.

The women said police gave no explanation for why they did not act on their complaints sooner.

"The detective was very apologetic about it," said the woman who made the 2005 report, now 26 and living in Oak Brook. "It's not something you just file away."

That police had received allegations against Arze as early as 2003 came as a shock to one of the women who reported being abused by him in 2007.

"I am disgusted," she said of law enforcement. "They should investigate why they didn't do anything. They were accomplices."

The women said they continue to suffer trauma from the incidents. They cannot see male doctors. One has recurring dreams about her alleged attack.

Arze, who is scheduled to be in court Aug. 16, won't lose his medical license for good even if convicted of all the sexual assault and battery of patient charges.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has interpreted the state Medical Practice Act to mean that it cannot permanently revoke a physician's license unless a doctor has been twice convicted of felonies involving controlled substances or public aid offenses.

A Tribune review uncovered 16 convicted sex offenders who have held Illinois medical licenses within the past 15 years. Not one had his license permanently revoked. One doctor convicted of sexually abusing a patient was never disciplined by the state in any way.


If you have a complaint about a doctor, contact the police department nearest the doctor's office and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation at http://www.idfpr.com/dpr/FILING/Complaint.asp or 312-814-6910.