Dr. Alireza Atef-Zafarmand played a memorable role in The Dallas Morning News' series on sexual abuse allegations at Parkland Hospital. He's the kidney specialist who allegedly told a bedridden patient that she looked like Julia Roberts, then grabbed her breast and wrapped his fingers around her neck, asking if she liked being choked. He also wanted her to act, pretending she was sedated and begging him not to leave, according to what she told police.
The Texas Medical Board decided to strip Atef of his medical license this past summer. They cited the Parkland incident, but they also dug up accusations from eight other women. Documents and testimony presented at Atef's disciplinary hearing in June show a pattern of abusive behavior toward women that escalated from unwanted advances to a pair of rapes, one year apart.
Atef is now suing one of the women he allegedly raped, accusing her of fabricating her story and wrecking his personal and professional lives. He's seeking more than $1 million in damages.
Atef and his accuser agree on one thing: that they had a sexual encounter on the afternoon of July 3, 2010 at Atef's home. After that, their stories diverge wildly.
According to testimony the 21-year-old woman delivered to the TMB, she'd gone to Atef's home seeking treatment for a leg wound. Ater he patched her up, he began to rub her shoulders, then "moved his thumbs to the front of her neck and choked her until she lost consciousness." He raped her as she passed in and out of consciousness, she said. She went to Parkland the next day to be examined and filed a report with Dallas police. No charges were ever filed.
In his lawsuit, Atef says he and the woman, a dancer at Rick's Cabaret, had met several months before through mutual friends. They "immediately hit it off and instantly became friends." She began showing up at parties at Atef's home and tagging along with the doctor and his friends, "who regularly patronize to some of Dallas' best restaurants and clubs."
They first had sex on April 22 and, in Atef's mind at least, were soon dating exclusively. This impression was solidified, Atef says in the suit, by her requests for money to help pay for rental cars, auto insurance, and other expenses.
By May, the lawsuit says the woman was cheating on him with a man it identifies only as Tom. But the woman was conflicted about the relationship and couldn't bring herself to break things off with Atef, which was how she wound up at his home on July 3.
Atef says the sex they had was consensual and claims the woman fabricated the rape claim because she felt guilty about cheating on her new boyfriend and so there was an alternative to Tom's suggestion, which, according to the suit, was to "go over there and rape him with a broom stick, demasulate [sic] him or mutilate him, cut off his penis, and beat him to death."
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He contends in the lawsuit that his innocence is borne out by records from the woman's hospital examination.
"[T]here was no sign of trauma, bruising, tearing of tissue, petechiae or other injury consistent with the alleged rape," it says. "There was no forensic evidence of rape, because no rape occurred."
The lawsuit does not address the claims brought by the other women whose complaints were referenced by the Morning News and Texas Medical Board. Perhaps his attorneys are drawing up those lawsuits now.
Whatever happens in court, the damage to Atef's reputation is probably permanent. He summarizes it best in the lawsuit: "as a result of the malicious and false reporting of rape, no woman will go on a date with Dr. Atef."