Ga. nurse anesthetist accused of abusing patients

AP News
Posted: Nov 25, 2009 11:31 PM

A metro Atlanta nurse anesthetist has been charged with molesting and sodomizing anesthetized patients in dental and medical offices, and police say the videotaped abuses could involve 100 or more victims.

Paul Patrick Serdula, 47, who worked in dental and medical offices across metro Atlanta, was arrested Monday night on child molestation and sodomy charges. The arrest came after authorities found several videos showing him fondling and groping patients who were under anesthesia at various offices, said Cobb County police officer Joe Hernandez.

And authorities reviewing the videos to find more victims say the assaults could go back years and involve residents of other states who were treated by Serdula while they were in Georgia.

"The magnitude of this is almost surreal," said Cobb County Police Sgt. Dana Pierce.

Serdula, who is being held at the Cobb County Jail without bond, was first arrested Nov. 18 on three counts of unlawful surveillance after a woman found a tiny camera hidden in a bathroom stall at a Cobb County dental office. He was charged with unlawful surveillance and eavesdropping and released on bond.

He was re-arrested at about 10 p.m. Monday and charged with aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy and aggravated sexual battery, among other counts, said Hernandez. At least one victim was a juvenile, he said. Hernandez would not disclose the gender of the juvenile or the other victims.

Police said Serdula has an attorney, but they could not immediately provide the attorney's name.

Serdula, whose license was suspended after his arrest, first registered as a nurse in Georgia in 1997. Authorities said he was not working exclusively for any one physician but instead was a contractor hired by medical providers on a temporary basis. They said that gave him access to offices across the metro Atlanta area.

Pierce said detectives have talked to several patients who believe they are victims, and investigators are now searching the videos for more clues and more victims.

"This case is absolutely far from over," he said.

But the investigation poses a unique challenge for detectives, as many of the potential victims don't know they were targeted because they were under anesthesia.

Police are encouraging anyone worried about whether they might be a victim to contact their medical provider to see if they had ever hired Serdula. If so, said Hernandez, they should immediately contact the Cobb County Police.

Police said they do not believe victims were at risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease as a result of the incidents. Hernandez said none of Serdula's actions "would require STD tests at this time."