A 62-year-old Conway doctor accused of rape’s September jury trial has been delayed to 2018.
Prosecutors and the defense both agreed the case needed more time before being brought before a jury.
Robert Burl Rook faces 27 sex-crime allegations — 13 counts each of rape and second-degree sexual assault and one count of third-degree sexual assault. His jury trial was set for Sept. 9-15. However, that date has been postponed to April 10-20.
Defense Attorney Patrick Benca hoped for a sooner date but Circuit Judge Charles "Ed" Clawson Jr. said the court was tied up at the beginning of 2018, noting a two-month jury trial is already set in a separate case.
Benca and Special Prosecuting Attorney James Barrett also arranged Friday for the court to set a February trial in Rook’s case, in attempt to hold the trial at an earlier date should the two-month trial finish ahead of schedule. Clawson agreed to set a Feb. 5-16 trial that would be honored should the case against Exxon wrap up ahead of schedule.
Rook was initially charged with three counts each of rape and second-degree sexual assault in June 2016 after three women said Rook touched them inappropriately at his his practice, Conway Family Practice Clinic at 919 Locust St.
One woman said Rook gave her a breast exam without a nurse in the exam room and described it as "not the typical breast exam like she had always undergone by her gynecologist" and said it lasted three to five minutes, according to the affidavit.
The woman told police she believed what had occurred was inappropriate and that she contacted the state medical licensing board as well as police. This was in October 2015.
Another woman described three visits within a four-week period in which she said, "she felt that the exams done by Rook were very odd, but she said she believed at the time that he was really trying to treat her medical condition and she did not question what he was doing."
When investigators subpoenaed any complaints filed against Rook with the state medical board, they discovered one filed by the mother of one of Rook’s patients alleging the doctor fueled her daughter’s Xanax abuse in exchange for sexual contact.
In January, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officers and CPD investigators interviewed the patient and her mother, noting in the affidavit that the patient "was slow to open up to us."
She ended up telling authorities Rook gave her prescriptions in exchange for sexual contact, including two instances of oral sex, according to the affidavit.
Barrett filed 21 additional charges Sept. 22, 2016, following an extended investigation.
Two pretrial hearings were also scheduled during Friday’s hearing.
Rook is set to appear in Faulkner County Circuit Court on Nov. 21 and Jan. 8 to handle any motions filed prior to his trial.