- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Montgomery County dentist, on the run since his 2003 conviction for raping a 15-year-old girl while she was under sedation in his dental office, was arrested this week at a Mexican beach, authorities said yesterday.

David Fuster, 51, formerly of Damascus, was taken into custody without incident by Mexican and U.S. officers Tuesday while on an outing with his family at a resort near Merida, on the Yucatan Peninsula, said Chief Deputy Darren Popkin of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.

Fuster was transferred to a Mexico City prison, where he was held on a provisional warrant. Maryland authorities plan to pursue extradition, although Deputy Popkin said that could take as long as six months partly because Fuster is a Peruvian citizen.

Fuster was convicted of second-degree rape, assault, child abuse and sex-offense charges in 2003, but was out on bail until sentencing. After he failed to show up for two court dates, authorities discovered that he had disappeared along with his wife, five young children and minivan. A judge issued an arrest warrant and revoked his $100,000 bond.

During his trial, the victim, then 17, said Fuster administered nitrous oxide gas to sedate her, and she later awoke to find him assaulting her on a couch in his office on Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda. A Montgomery County jury found him guilty after four days of deliberation, and he faced a possible 55-year prison term.

Fuster was granted bail before his trial under an agreement with prosecutors because of delays with DNA evidence, Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said. Because of a testing backlog, the DNA results were not ready in time for trial. In order to get a postponement, prosecutors agreed to the bail.

“We were between a rock and hard place; we needed the evidence,” said Mr. McCarthy, adding the DNA results were key to the conviction.

Fuster fled with his wife and children. It is not known whether he went directly to Mexico or entered the country from South America.

Six weeks ago, authorities found him living on a ranch that was enclosed by a 10-foot wall. He did not appear to be employed and was not practicing dentistry. He left the compound regularly to take his children to school and had access to money he used for living expenses.

“He had gotten somewhat comfortable,” Deputy Popkin said.

Fuster’s Montgomery County attorney, Laura Kelsey Rhodes, said she had little information on his arrest. She would not say whether she had any contact with him during his flight, citing attorney-client confidentiality. But she deemed it likely that Fuster panicked at the prospect of having his close-knit family split up by a prison term.

“I think this looks like an act of desperation that was all aimed at keeping his family whole,” Mrs. Rhodes said.

A spokesman for Montgomery State’s Attorney John McCarthy said prosecutors were weighing additional charges against Fuster for fleeing.

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