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Assault charges are served upon a Duke professor, his attorney asserts the ‘allegations are false’

<p>Ranjan Sudan, professor and vice chair of education in the department of surgery at the School of Medicine and Duke Health general surgeon.</p>

Ranjan Sudan, professor and vice chair of education in the department of surgery at the School of Medicine and Duke Health general surgeon.

Three charges of sexual battery and one charge of assault against a female have been issued against Ranjan Sudan, professor and vice chair of education in the department of surgery at the School of Medicine and Duke Health general surgeon, according to court documents obtained by The Chronicle.

NicholsonPham, a Durham law firm representing Sudan in his case, released a statement to the press Oct. 7 confirming the allegations against Sudan of “several misdemeanor crimes against a woman who formerly cared for his elderly mother.” 

The law firm argues that the accusations are “false and completely without merit.” 

“They are a misguided attempt to cause Dr. Sudan personal and professional embarrassment,” the statement reads. “The charges were fabricated after the complainant was unable to coerce him into giving her unearned money after she quit caring for his mother.”

The accuser declined to comment to The Chronicle for this story.

Kammie Michael, senior public affairs specialist of the Durham Police Department, confirmed the accuracy of the charges and that they had not been taken out at the time of her Oct. 4 email to The Chronicle. She added, however, that the charges had not been served on Sudan at the time of her email.

Charges were received and served upon Sudan Oct. 6 at 4 p.m., according to court documents. The crimes occurred in Sudan’s home during the day in mid May, mid June and on July 4, and the three incidents were reported to law enforcement Sept. 26.

Sudan and the accuser have been called to appear and testify at the Durham County courthouse Oct. 29.

In NicholsonPham’s Oct. 7 press release, the law firm wrote that Sudan is considering filing a civil suit for defamation. When asked for clarification, Meredith Nicholson, Sudan’s attorney, wrote in an email that Sudan’s primary focus is “to defend himself accurately and vigorously against these allegations” at this time.

“Once the cases have been successfully resolved, he will then review his options to determine what legal actions may be appropriate and against whom,” Nicholson wrote.

The law firm also wrote in its release that WRAL-TV originally reported on the case “without reaching out Dr. Sudan so that he could respond personally, thus turning a personal disagreement into a public and salacious incident.”

In response, WRAL-TV News Director Rick Gall said that WRAL-TV contacted Duke Health for a statement. He said that it is “consistent with how [WRAL-TV has] approached other stories,” as the organization reaches out to the accused’s employer with the intent of receiving a statement on behalf of the employer and the accused. 

Gall added WRAL-TV was unaware if Sudan “had legal representation” when they initially reported the story.

“Now whether or not Duke Health spoke to him before responding to us, or at some point to spoke to him, I’m not absolutely sure,” Gall said.

Sudan has been affiliated with the University since Oct. 1, 2008, according to a statement from Duke officials provided by Sarah Avery, director of the Duke Health news office, to The Chronicle. The statement notes that the accuser is not a patient or someone from the Duke community.

“Nevertheless, it is timely to reiterate that Duke University takes allegations of misconduct seriously and reconfirms its commitment to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all patients, students, faculty and staff,” the statement reads. “At this juncture, Duke has received no information that would require restriction of Dr. Sudan’s clinical duties nor educational roles. Duke respects the integrity of the legal system to review the allegations consistent with due process.”

His Duke Health profile states Sudan is a weight loss surgeon and has three board certifications: the American Board of Surgery, General Surgery; American Board of Psychiatry/Neurology, Psychiatry, Child & Adolescent; and the American Board of Psychiatry/Neurology, Psychiatry.

Sudan mentors medical students in their third year through the anesthesiology, surgery and environmental physiology study program, according to his School of Medicine profile. He has received grants for vascular surgery and metabolic and weight loss surgery technologies and curriculum.

In August 2018, Duke Surgery announced that Sudan was named as a consultant to the education division of the American College of Surgeons, a role in which he would serve for two years, according to a news release. The objective of the ACS education division is to encourage “the highest quality of surgical care and patient safety through educational, assessment, and accreditation programs.”

According to Nicholson, Sudan is “extraordinarily polite,” “self-effacing” and “not self-aggrandizing.” She asserted that, due to Sudan being “a high profile figure,” the case has “caused all sorts of alarm bells to go off.”

“I am absolutely confident that he will be exonerated,” Nicholson said.

Ben Leonard contributed reporting.

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