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Doctor accused of sex assault takes plea deal

November 8, 2018

The story of a Lake Havasu City radiologist accused of sexual assault will draw to a close in December, following a plea agreement by the defendant. The woman who initially reported the offense will remain in prison well after the defendant’s sentence is served.

Ayman N. Awad, 61, was indicted last November on charges of sexual assault and surreptitious photography after a two-year investigation by federal authorities. Awad, who owns Havasu Imaging Center, accepted a plea agreement Monday in which the sexual assault charge would be dismissed. He will plead guilty to surreptitious photography, the sentence for which will be six to 30 months in prison.

The “Whistleblower”

The case against Awad began in 2014, when former employee Kerri Hynes allegedly noticed inconsistencies in Awad’s business records. Hynes collected records from the business with the intent of acting as a whistleblower against her former employer. In 2015, Hynes’ investigation led her to an external hard drive found in a desk at Awad’s business. According to statements by Hynes last December, she believed at the time she might find evidence of criminal activity in Awad’s alleged hard drive. She was unprepared for what that entailed.

Hynes discovered dozens of photographs depicting the alleged sexual assault of an unconscious woman in Awad’s home, which the Mohave County Attorney’s Office says occurred in March 2008. According to statements by Hynes, she intended to bring a copy of the allegedly incriminating files from the hard drive to federal investigators in Phoenix, after a family vacation to Boston in the summer of 2015.

In her absence, however, Awad reported to Lake Havasu City Police detectives that Hynes had stolen more than $72,000 from Awad and his business. Hynes was arrested on 11 counts of theft and one count of fraud upon her return to Havasu. It was an accusation Hynes denied, and continues to maintain her innocence.

Hynes was released from custody on $35,000 bond in July 2015, and delivered Awad’s alleged hard drive files to the FBI as her own case remained pending.

Hynes disputed the charges against her, but after several missed court appearances, she pleaded guilty to one count of theft in April 2017 on advice from her attorney. Hynes was sentenced to nine years in prison. She has since applied for post-conviction relief on the grounds of new evidence, as well as unqualified legal counsel. That request was withdrawn this May.

According to the Arizona Department of Corrections, Hynes will remain in prison until April 2024.

The Victim

For the woman at the center of the allegations against Awad, her college years were a distant memory. Identified in court records only by the initials, E.U., she ventured to Lake Havasu City nearly 10 years prior for spring break. According to the police report, E.U. had little memory of Awad, and had no memory whatsoever of being the victim of a crime.

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 11.2 percent of all university students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation.

Sexual assault is a threat many women face at college campuses nationwide. Now living in Los Angeles, she was unaware of the alleged incident in Havasu – until the day investigators arrived at her door.

Federal agents spent nearly two years investigating the case as they attempted to locate the victim and ascertain her age at the time of the alleged assault. According to the police report, one photograph in Awad’s alleged collection contained a blurred image of the victim’s driver’s license, which was ultimately used to find her.

It was only when agents showed her the photographic evidence, retrieved from Awad’s hard drive, that the victim knew. The victim became visibly upset, the report said, as FBI agents asked her to identify herself in photographs allegedly depicting her disrobed and unconscious in Awad’s home as the crime took place. According to court records, the victim now believes Awad may have drugged her in preparation for the alleged crime.

She remembered meeting Awad at a Havasu bar, the police report said. She was brought to Awad’s home that evening, according to police, where she reportedly lost consciousness. The following morning, the victim woke in a friend’s motor home. She told police she received a phone call from Awad later that day, and told her she left belongings of hers at his home.

According to the police report, Awad told E.U. she had been intoxicated the evening prior, and attempted to steal money from the bar’s cash register. Awad allegedly told the victim he interceded to prevent her from facing legal trouble. The victim remembered being skeptical of Awad’s account, the report said, but collected her belongings before returning home.

Agents determined the victim was legally an adult when the alleged assault occurred, and turned the case against Awad over to the Lake Havasu City Police Department. Awad was taken into custody Nov. 17, 2017.

What’s Next?

Awad is scheduled to appear before Mohave County Superior Court Judge Richard Weiss Dec. 18 for judgment and sentencing on the charge of surreptitious photography.

Defense and prosecuting attorneys were unable to comment on the plea agreement or facts of the case prior to the Weiss’s disposition next month.

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