News

Ex-gynecologist going to prison for 20 years

By MIKE HALLIDAY

The Mirror

Charles Momah, the gynecologist who had an office in Federal Way, was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison on Monday.

Momah, 49, was found guilty by a jury last November of four counts related to accusations made by former patients he sexually assaulted them, got one hooked on prescription painkillers and raped a woman while she was on his exam table.

The King County Superior Court jury deliberated for four days on the case and returned the verdict of guilty of rape in the second degree, rape in the third degree and two counts of indecent liberties.

Family members and a friend of Momah’s pleaded with Judge Michael Trickey Monday to give the former physician a light sentence arguing he was a good man who came from a good family. His attorneys argued the doctor’s age and health should be considered in handing down the sentence.

Several members of Momah’s family and a friend were in the courtroom and told Trickey the man sitting in the orange jail house garb was not “an animal” but a “kind, hardworking” man who was taken advantage of by “unscrupulous individuals.”

Okey Anakwenz and his sister, Ona, said their uncle was a generous man who took them in when they came to Washington. Okey Anakwenz said his uncle taught him about morals, hard work and humility. Ona Anakwez said her uncle’s practice allowed him to help others to the best of his ability.

Reginald Momah said his brother was raised in a family that was taught humility and went to church regularly.

Kim Broi, a family friend, said she had known Charles Momah for two years and called him an intelligent, trusting and generous man “to the point of gullibility.”

She lashed out at the media, calling for “more responsible journalism” on Momah and said his accusers were “unscrupulous.”

In a “post Anita Hill-era,” all it takes is an accusation to strip men of their reputations and livelihoods, she claimed.

Broi said the truth was starting to surface and the millions of dollars in insurance the women were promised for testifying would evaporate.

Former patients told the judge Momah used his position as a doctor to ruin their lives, and several others said he should get a stiff sentence.

Michael Trickey, in sentencing Momah, said the doctor used the vulnerability of his patients for his own gains.

The King County prosecuting attorney asked Trickey to approve a sentence of more than 23 years –– the maximum number of years under the sentencing range for the crimes.

Momah’s attorney, David Allen, requested the judge to make the sentence less than the minimum in the sentencing guidelines. Allen’s motion was denied, but neither did Trickey take the prosecution’s request.

One of the women who accused Momah of sexual assault, Cheryl Wood, said she would never call Momah “doctor” again. Rather, she said, he was a “butcher and drug pusher” who destroyed her chance to have a biological child.

Another woman, Heather Phillips, said an example should be made of Momah so other doctors would know they couldn’t use their position to take advantage of patients.

“We’re not scared just because they’re a doctor,” she said.

Both defense and prosecuting attorneys used Momah’s professional title as part of their arguments on his sentence.

Senior deputy prosecutors Scott Fogg and Roger Rogoff said Momah used his position as a doctor to gain trust and use it to intimidate patients when they balked at his actions.

“He absolutely knew the power that he had,” Fogg said.

Allen argued in writing that Momah had been a positive member of the community as a doctor.

Momah can appeal the sentence and ruling but will have to wait until a separate trial for charges of filing false health insurance claims is concluded. That won’t end his legal issues as a civil lawsuit is also in the works.

Staff writer Mike Halliday: 925-5565, mhalliday@fedwaymirror.com

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