(*****Eds NOTE - Correction - was CLEARED OF all charges) A federal jury yesterday acquitted a psychiatrist who was accused of negligence leading to the jail-cell suicide of a former Wharton professor. Satyendra Diwan, a psychiatric consultant to the Delaware County Prison Health services, was accused of medical misconduct against Claudio Colantoni, a former accounting professor who was accused of raping a four-year old girl in April 1987. Colantoni pleaded guilty to lesser charges and committed suicide in jail in December 1987, while serving his sentence. Psychiatrists had placed Colantoni on various "suicide watches" during his internment, ranging from hand-and-foot restraints to sedation, to prevent him from killing or otherwise damaging himself. At the time of his suicide, a suit by Colantoni's widow claimed, Diwan had placed the former Wharton professor in an isolation cell without restraints and ordered 15-minute checks even after Colantoni repeatedly threatened suicide, reported hallucinations and feelings of persecution. The federal jury cleared Diwan of all charges yesterday, finding no evidence of gross negligence. Richard Galli, Diwan's lawyer, said yesterday that he had expected the jury to rule in his client's favor. "There were not sufficient grounds to prosecute on gross negligence," Galli said. "His conduct and evaluation [of Colantoni] were professional and reasonable." David Harrison, the attorney for the former professor's widow, said yesterday afternoon that he was disappointed with the verdict. "It's a difficult burden of proof, to prove gross negligence," said Harrison. According to Galli, Diwan -- who has since began a private practice -- received support from his patients during the trial. "His patients have been very supportive and loyal," Galli said. "They've sent him letters and been very understanding."Comments powered by Disqus
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