Fugitive Maryland Dentist Convicted of Raping Patient Nabbed in Mexico

A suburban Washington, D.C., dentist from Peru who fled after his 2003 conviction for raping a 15-year-old girl while she was under sedation was arrested this week at a Mexican beach, authorities said Thursday.

David Fuster, 51, was taken into custody without incident by Mexican and U.S. officers Tuesday while on an outing with his family at a resort near Merida, on the Yucatan Peninsula, according to Chief Deputy Darren Popkin of the Montgomery County sheriff's office in Maryland.

He was transferred to a Mexico City prison, where he was held on a provisional warrant. Maryland authorities plan to pursue extradition, although Popkin said that could take as long as six months because of Fuster's Peruvian citizenship.

Fuster was convicted of second-degree rape, assault, child abuse and sex offense charges in 2003, but was out on bail while he awaited sentencing. After he failed to show up for two court dates, authorities discovered he had disappeared along with his family. A judge later issued an arrest warrant.

During his trial, the victim, then 17, said she went to Fuster for treatment two years before. He administered nitrous oxide gas to sedate her, and she later awoke to find Fuster assaulting her on a couch in his office. A Montgomery County jury found him guilty after four days of deliberation.

Fuster was granted bond before his trial under an agreement with prosecutors because of delays with DNA evidence, according to Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy. Due to a testing backlog, the DNA results were not ready in time for trial, and in order to get a postponement, prosecutors agreed to the bond.

"We were between a rock and hard place, we needed the evidence," said McCarthy, adding the DNA results were key to the conviction.

Fuster likely went to South America after his conviction before entering Mexico, McCarthy said.

Six weeks ago, authorities found him living on a ranch that was enclosed by a 10-foot (3-meter) wall, Popkin said. He did not appear to be employed, and was not practicing dentistry. He left the compound regularly to take his children to school and had access to money he used for living expenses.

"He had gotten somewhat comfortable," Popkin said.

Fuster's Montgomery County lawyer, Laura Kelsey Rhodes, said she had little information on his arrest. She would not say if she had any contact with him during his flight, citing attorney-client confidentiality. But she said it was likely Fuster panicked at the prospect of having his close-knit family split up by a prison term.

"I think this looks like an act of desperation that was all aimed at keeping his family whole," Rhodes said.

Prosecutors will likely wait until Fuster returns to Maryland before deciding whether to charge him with jumping bail, McCarthy said.