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Jury Not Buying Zoloft Defense

Posted on June 13, 2012 | Written By: iadminlaw


Zoloft (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A former marine and police officer awaits his fate in a San Bernardino County courtroom as the jurors determine if the antidepressant Zoloft led him to kidnap and rape a waitress in 2010.

Anthony Nicholas Orban, a veteran of the Iraq war and former Westminster police detective, is accused of abducting a waitress as she walked to her car following her shift at Ontario Mills. Using his service weapon, Orban forced the victim to drive to a self-storage lot in Fontana where he raped her.

According to the victim, Orban sexually brutalized her in the parked car which had tinted windows. In one instance, Orban even took pictures of the victim while he was on his mobile phone. Orban even shoved the barrel of his gun deep into her throat and threatened to kill her. An incoming call on Orban’s mobile phone distracted him long enough for the victim to escape. She ran out of his car and into a nearby liquor store for protection.

Ultimately, the victim identified Orban as her attacker. Orban was also implicated by his best friend. Not only was he was captured on security video footage at the scene, but he even left his service weapon – with his name on it – in the victim’s car.

Before the kidnapping, Orban was bar hopping in Ontario. He reportedly groped a woman’s chest, grabbed a man’s crotch and texted a former girlfriend in the hopes of having sex with her.

Orban’s attorney offered a questionable explanation for his behavior. His defense team relied heavily on the testimony of New York psychiatrist Dr. Peter Breggin. A critic of psychotropic medication who has testified in numerous cases, Breggin said that he believed that Orban was psychotic and delusional during the attack. Breggin testified that taking the drug Zoloft caused Orban to experience a break from reality shortly before he abducted the victim and that he was in an unconscious state of delirium in which he had no control of his actions or recollection of the incident.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer first introduced Zoloft to the U.S. market in 1991. Today, it remains one of the most widely prescribed antidepressants available. Zoloft is in the family of psychiatric drugs known as SSRIs or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Zoloft is used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other anxiety disorders. Like many psychiatric drugs, a prescription for Zoloft has a black box warning because of potentially dangerous side effects. The FDA’s black box warning informs patients that taking Zoloft may cause unusual changes in behavior and even suicide.

While there are reported cases that taking Zoloft can induce psychotic episodes, it is highly unlikely that a patient will resort to kidnapping and rape.

The prosecution in the case agrees and called medical experts to the witness stand to testify that even with side effects Zoloft is a relatively safe drug. The prosecution also urged the jury not to be swayed by the defense argument that Zoloft compromised Orban’s ability to distinguish right from wrong.

If Orban is found not guilty by reason of unconsciousness, he will be a free man. If Orban is convicted, the jury must decide whether or not he was sane. If he is declared insane, he will be sent to a state mental hospital for treatment. If he is found guilty, he could face up to life in prison.

Did Zoloft cause Orban to kidnap and rape an Inland Empire woman or did he just believe that he was above the law? There is no simple way to answer this question. The most likely explanation is that Orban, who probably had psychiatric issues in the first place, probably did believe that he could do what he pleased with impunity. The fact that he happened to be taking Zoloft is just an excuse to get out of doing hard time. Orban should be punished for his crime.

Unfortunately, psychiatric drugs could lead to less than scrupulous behavior that may cause patients to harm themselves. These drugs can even cause birth defects. If you or someone you love was taking Zoloft or any other psychiatric medication while pregnant and the child was born with a birth defect, you may want to contact a personal injury lawyer. Only a professionally trained injury lawyer can determine if you have a case.

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