Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Crimes Below the Belt II: Beheaded

Mutilated by an Ill-Tempered Surgeon

Nelu Radonescu, a 34-year-old Romanian builder, suffered from a testicular malformation and sought the expertise of senior surgeon and professor of anatomy Dr. Naum Ciomu, 56, of Bucharest's Panduri Urology Hospital, to help him correct his physical problem. The operation, scheduled for mid-July 2004, went through as planned. However, it would have disastrous results.

Dr. Naum Ciomu
Dr. Naum Ciomu

During the operation, Dr. Ciomu suddenly lost his temper, grabbed a scalpel and sliced Radonescu's penis completely off before the horrified surgical team. Dr. Ciomu then cut the amputated penis "into three pieces before storming out of the operating theater," Michael Leidig reported for The Sunday Telegraph. Radonescu was rushed to an emergency hospital in Bucharest where a plastic surgeon worked determinedly to restore the appendage.

Radonescu's urinary function was salvaged, although his penis could not be reattached. As a result, his angered wife sued the doctor. An investigation was launched and Dr. Ciomu was banned from practicing medicine pending the results, the Agence France-Presse reported.

The case finally went to trial in January 2007. During court proceedings, Radonescu testified that "the trauma left a deep mark both physically and psychologically... It is hard for a man who wants to have sex, yet lacks the organ," Leidig reported for the Telegraph. Ciomu admitted during testimony that he was responsible for mutilating his patient and that he did it because he had "accidentally cut the patient's urinary channel" during the operation, a "loss of judgment," which was "due to personal problems." Leidig reported. The judge presiding found Dr. Ciomu guilty of maiming Radonescu and sentenced him to one year suspended sentence and barred him from practicing medicine for three years. The court also awarded Radonescu around $40,000 for an operation to rebuild his penis to be paid by the hospital's insurer, as well as approximately $200,000 in punitive damages, which Dr. Ciomu must pay.

Romania's doctors' union was highly critical of the court's decision to make Dr. Ciomu personally pay damages because they claimed that the suspension of his license was punishment enough, and that the personal liability would "set a dangerous precedent" possibly leading doctors to refuse to conduct operations, it was reported by AOL News. Dr. Monica Pop, the director of the ophthalmology hospital in Bucharest was quoted in the article as saying that "doctors would in future avoid any cases where they could end up in court having to pay damages."

Conversely, Radonescu accepted the financial compensation even though it seemed to many to be a pittance compared to the trauma he endured. He wanted to use the money to pay to reconstruct his penis using tissue from his arm and eventually rebuild his life. Leidig quoted Radonescu as saying, "It will never be the same, but if I am even a quarter of the man I was, I will still be very content."

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