By Andy Furillo
The former Kaiser plastic surgeon who failed to show up for his sentencing on two sexual exploitation counts said in a telephone interview from a Ventura County psychiatric facility today that he has no idea how he wound up there or whether he tried to commit suicide.
"I'm trying to figure that out myself," Scott Takasugi said from the Hillmont Psychiatric Center in Ventura, where his lawyer said that the defendant is being held on a 72-hour hold as a threat to himself or others.
"I just woke up a couple hours ago, and I'm in a room here with a bunch of strange people," Takasugi said during the noon interview with The Bee.
Takasugi said he feels "perfect."
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White issued a no-bail warrant for Takasugi today when the former physician failed for the second time in four days to appear at his sentencing.
Takasugi, 56, pleaded no contest on June 5 to the two counts under the state's Business and Professions Code of sexually exploiting his clients. He had initially been charged in a 21-count complaint, following his arrest in June 2006.
"They are not Penal Code violations," Takasugi said. "They are Business and Professions Code violations. But they're not like a violent rape, things like that."
Despite his no-contest pleas, Takasugi said today he doesn't believe he is guilty of any crimes.
"What I did was misconstrued medical procedures," he said. "I practiced for 14 years, and all of a sudden a complaint comes out?"
Asked, then, why he pleaded no contest, Takasugi said "I'm not in agreement" with the legal advice he was given and that "I was told to buy an insurance policy," meaning that he should take the deal offered by the District Attrorney's Office so he wouldn't have to do as much time in prison.
Deputy District Attorney Keith Hill said Takasugi faces a term of three years and eight months when he is finally sentenced.
Takasugi's victims declined to comment today, but the father of one of the women said last Friday, "It just seems like the wheels of justice turn very slowly." The man, whose name is being withheld because it would serve to identify his daughter, said that Takasugi "continues to be arrogant, as displayed by his failure to show up today."
The man said "it's unfair" to the victims that the "judicial system wants to be fair to the perpetrator."
Judge White first issued the no-bail warrant on Friday when Takasugi failed to appear for his sentencing His lawyer told the court that Takasugi's father had died on Thursday night and that his client returned to Ventura County to attend to his "distraught" mother.
The judge then stayed the issuance of the warrant until today at 9 a.m.
"This is the time and date for judgment and sentencing," White said when he took the bench today. "Dr. Takasugi is not present this morning. A no-bail bench warrant is issued and bail was forfeited Friday. But last week, the order was stayed until 9 a.m. this morning.
"It's now 9:20," the judge said, before ordering that the warrant be served.
Takasugi's lawyer, Ted W. Cassman, told the court today that his client had been admitted for a 72-hour evaluation, after which the prosecutor asked the court to issue the warrant.
"Your Honor, this is the second time the defendant has failed to appear for court," Deputy DA Hill said. The prosecutor said that as part of his plea bargain, Takasugi, who is a weapons collector, had to refrain from having any weapons in his possession and that "he has apparently violated that aspect of the deal."
"His motives are unclear," Hill said. "It is unknown whether or not this is a ploy on his part to avoid court and sentencing."
Asked outside court if Takasugi had tried to kill himself, Hill said, "I can't verify that information" and referred questions to Cassman, who declined to comment. Asked if Cassman told him that Takasugi had tried to commit suicide, Hill said, "That's the information that was given to me."
Takasugi said he is "pretty sure" he got rid of his weapons, which he claimed were returned to him after his arrest more than three years ago, under the requirements of his recent plea deal.
He said that he is not depressed.
"I'm clinically fine, although the last three years have been melancholy years," Takasugi said. "I am sharp. I have plenty to live for."
He said he had been drinking tequila and "Chopin martinis" with friends and family on Sunday night, as they gathered ahead of his father's funeral next week in Ventura County. He said his last memory was parking his car somewhere. He said he had been under "lots of pressure" and that "we were having very little sleep" for the past several days.
Takasugi said he had been hoping to be sentenced to probation.
Asked what he would say to the victims in the two counts to which he pleaded no contest, Takasugi said, "I feel very sorry for everybody. Including me. To have to have put everybody through this and put into their minds that they had wrongdoing done to them, I would imagine that's horrible."
He told a reporter to talk to his attorney about what actually happened in the two counts.
Sacramento County sheriff's spokesman Tim Curran said that his agency will contact the local agency in Ventura County that has jurisdication at the psychiatric unit where Takasugi is being held "and let them know there is a no-bail warrant in the system. When he is released from that facility, he will be taken into custody and transported up here."
Takasugi said he knew nothing about the warrant.
"I don't know what happened today," he said.
He said he finds that idea of going to prison "a scary thought."
"In my particular case, I'm not looking forward to it at all," Takasugi said.
But he said "I'm a true believe that if someone has done something wrong, they need to own up to it."