- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 28, 2003

A missing dentist convicted of raping a sedated 15-year-old girl in his office didn’t show up for a court hearing in Rockville yesterday, further evidence to prosecutors that he fled to avoid a potential 55-year sentence and more charges of sexual abuse.

In a brief hearing intended to be a motion for a new trial in the rape case, Montgomery Circuit Judge D. Warren Donohue ordered that David Fuster’s $100,000 bond be forfeited. Judge Donohue issued an arrest warrant for Fuster last week after authorities couldn’t find him at his Damascus home.

Fuster was convicted May 7 of raping the girl when she visited his Bethesda office for dental cleaning in October 2001. He was free on bond until his July 10 sentencing.

But the day after the conviction, Fuster removed his five children from Montgomery County schools. Police later visited his house to find boxes packed, the door unlocked and the family van missing.

“David Fuster has, in fact, fled the jurisdiction,” said Montgomery County State’s Attorney Douglas F. Gansler following the hearing. “Today we confirmed that belief.”

Mr. Gansler said authorities had “leads” on Fuster’s whereabouts but would not elaborate. A Peruvian citizen, Fuster did not have a U.S. passport to surrender when he posted bail, Mr. Gansler said.

Fuster, 47, faces sexual abuse charges involving at least four other women who have come forward to say he abused them in his office.

Defense attorney Barry Helfand said he received a message from Fuster on his cell phone a few days after the May 7 jury verdict, but Fuster asked about potential appeals and made no mention of fleeing.

“I’ve never heard from Dr. Fuster that he ever did not plan to show up at these events,” Mr. Helfand said.

Mr. Helfand’s co-counsel, Laura Kelsey Rhodes, said last week that Fuster had planned to take his family to Florida after the trial. Miss Rhodes was not at yesterday’s hearing.

Fuster’s bail was originally set at $250,000, a figure he posted with one of his dental offices, his Damascus house and loans from family members. But Miss Rhodes filed a motion Dec. 24 seeking a lower bail, saying Fuster was financially strapped.

Mr. Gansler said his office opposed the reduction in bail, but court records show Miss Rhodes tried to contact Assistant State’s Attorney Thomas DeGonia to discuss the lower bond. Mr. DeGonia did not return the calls.

On Jan. 8, Judge Ann Harrington ordered the bail be cut to $100,000.

Mr. Gansler said Mr. DeGonia opposed the reduction of bail in a phone call with Judge Harrington’s clerk before she issued the order. The docket listing that both parties agreed with the decision was incorrectly entered by a clerk, he said.

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