BRENTWOOD — A Newfields doctor who was affiliated with Wentworth-Douglass Hospital pleaded guilty Thursday to sexually assaulting a patient with multiple mental health diagnoses and was sentenced to five to 10 years in prison.
Dr. Hugh MacDonald, 58, of Newfields, pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault for three incidents that occurred at his Newmarket office in March and April 2018.
The plea and sentence were part of a negotiated agreement between MacDonald and the Rockingham County Attorney’s office.
“Your behavior was not only despicable and horrific, it was selfish,” Rockingham County Superior Court Judge Marguerite Wageling told MacDonald after accepting the plea deal.
MacDonald was the victim’s primary care physician for several years before he sexually assaulted her after inviting her to his office after hours, according to Assistant County Attorney Melissa Fales.
Fales described MacDonald as a trusted primary care physician who preyed on a vulnerable patient and had kept a package of condoms stashed away in a filing cabinet in his office.
After the victim came forward alleging she was assaulted, Newmarket police set up an undercover operation, with the victim wearing a recording device in May 2018. Police then moved in to arrest the unsuspecting doctor at his office at Great Bay Family Practice, which is part of Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover.
His license to practice, which was issued in 2006, was suspended by the New Hampshire Board of Medicine after his arrest.
Fales, the county prosecutor, said her office would have sought many more years in prison if the case went to trial, but the plea deal means the victim won’t have to endure a trial and any appeals that could have followed.
“The victim’s actions in this case were incredibly brave. She endured having to be interviewed about the assaults that she incurred by Dr. MacDonald. She saw the court process through. She even went into an office appointment with a one-party recording concealed and was able to generate some really helpful evidence in the case and so our office is just really inspired by her bravery,” Fales said.
In court, the victim, who is in her 40s, spoke about how her constant health issues led her to MacDonald.
Reading from a prepared statement, the victim told how MacDonald “appeared to be a compassionate, to-the-point, on-speed-dial doctor” who said he was a “safe person” who could be trusted and would never hurt her.
“Yet from the start, some of the things he said and did were of question,” she said.
The victim said that “at first it was the words, the touching, the rubbing, but each time it would become more and worse” and at the end he sexually assaulted her.
Wageling, who said she’s been involved in the criminal justice system for more than 30 years, said “I have never seen anything like this,” lashing out at MacDonald for taking advantage of his patient.
Wageling said his behavior wasn’t acceptable in any way.
“I hope to God that you have learned an important lesson about your own selfishness and about what happens to individuals such as yourself,” she told him.
Wageling also addressed the victim, saying she didn’t deserve what happened to her.
“You did nothing to cause yourself to be subjected to what he put you through and I am so sorry that we are meeting under these circumstances,” she said.
In addition to the five- to 10-year sentence that he’ll serve, he was also given three 10- to 20-year sentences that will all be suspended for 25 years.
MacDonald was ordered to be assessed for sex offender treatment in prison and will have to register as a sex offender once he’s released.