A 33-year-old New York City gastroenterologist appeared in court in Queens on Monday, August 7, charged with 50 counts of drugging and r@ping women around the world including in the hospital where he worked.
Zhi Alan Cheng is accused of filming the attacks on his phone, and was stopped in December when a former girlfriend accused him of rape and reported finding video of herself being attacked as well as that of other women, on his phone.
The ex-girlfriend accused Cheng of using a K-N95 mask filled with cotton balls soaked in liquid to knock her out.
Police began investigating her allegation, and Cheng was arrested and fired from the hospital where he worked, NewYork-Presbyterian Queens.
On Monday, prosecutors alleging that he attacked multiple women aged between 19 and 47 at his home in Astoria; at the hospital where he worked; and across New York, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Thailand.
Six women appear on the videos, but prosecutors believe there may be more.
Melinda Katz, the Queen’s district attorney, urged anyone with potential leads about other victims to come forward, saying the evidence indicated ‘a sexual predator of the absolute worst kind, a serial rapist.’
She said he was prepared to break ‘every standard of human decency.’
Following the December 2022 attack, Cheng’s home was raided and police found drugs including fentanyl, ketamine, LSD and several anesthetics typically used in surgeries, plus devices with dozens of other recordings at his home.
The attacks are believed to date back to 2021.
In one case, Cheng is accused of filming himself groping a 37-year-old patient as she lay unconscious at the Queens Hospital in 2021.
A short time later, prosecutors said, he raped a woman whom he met on a dating app and filmed the attack.
In the video, a small brown bottle was visible on his bed, according to the authorities, who said they had recovered a similar bottle from his apartment that contained a powerful anesthetic.
That same year, he is accused of raping a 19-year-old girl who went to the hospital the day before she was scheduled to have her gall bladder removed.
She said Cheng unexpectedly injected her with a substance that made her fall asleep and ‘when she woke up [the] doctor was no longer in [the] room’.
She was experiencing ‘extreme pain to [her] lower abdomen.’
She and her mother both feared she could have been sexually assaulted, but she told social workers specializing in sexual assault she did not know what had happened while she was unconscious.
She told hospital authorities, and did not accuse him of rape, but medical staff took the allegation seriously: checking surveillance camera footage and key card access, and staged a line-up in the hospital where she identified Cheng.
Nicholas Liakas, the teenager’s attorney, said the investigation into the incident ground to a halt, and he has since filed a civil suit against the hospital.
‘That investigation, if you want to call it, hit a dead end,’ he told NBC 4 News.
He told the channel the hospital ‘conspired to cover up her assault by failing to tell her what had happened, failing to test or treat her for the illegal and dangerous injection of drugs she had been given, and refusing to call the police.’
New York-Presbyterian would not comment on the 19-year-old’s allegations, but expressed outrage at his alleged behavior.
‘The crimes committed by this individual are heinous, despicable, and a fundamental betrayal of our mission and our patients’ trust. We are appalled and deeply saddened by what these victims and their families have endured,’ the statement read.
The hospital said Cheng was fired six months ago, after New York-Presbyterian learned of the criminal rape indictment.
‘In December 2022, as soon as the District Attorney made us aware of allegations of sexual abuse against this individual, he was immediately placed off duty, banned from hospital property, and terminated,’ the hospital said.
‘We have been fully cooperating with the Queens District Attorney’s office, the NYPD, and the NYS Department of Health.’
Cheng’s attorney, Jeffrey Einhorn, said on Monday it was ‘too early’ to comment on the case.
Cheng pleaded not guilty, and is being held on Rikers Island.