A California judge has dismissed child sexual assault charges against Nick Philippoussis because the Australian tennis coach “is completely incapacitated” and near death after suffering a massive stroke in jail.
Mr Philippoussis, 68, faced spending the rest of his life behind bars after he was accused of repeatedly raping two nine-year-old girls he trained in San Diego.
Just over a year ago, when Mr Philippoussis was held in San Diego County Jail after being unable to come up with $US9.2 million ($12.7 million) bail, he suffered the stroke and has been bedridden ever since, unable to communicate and being fed via a tube.
Prosecutors, detectives and the alleged victims’ family members have been monitoring Mr Philippoussis’ health via his physician and the court heard during Wednesday’s hearing in San Diego they were satisfied he will not be making a “meaningful recovery” and be fit to stand trial.
“The doctor essentially said he is a step above a vegetative state,” Deputy District Attorney Garret Wong told AAP after the hearing.
“He can stay in this condition indefinitely, but he did not have a very optimistic prognosis for his survival.
“He said it is pretty much just the next event – whatever major event that may be whether it is an infection or another stroke it was not looking very hopeful.
“The doctor was pretty clear he did not anticipate Mr Philippoussis making any meaningful recovery – they are the words he used.
“At this point just given the fact he is completely incapacitated and incompetent, we didn’t want this hanging over the head of the victims.
“So that was our reason to dismiss the case today.”
Mr Philippoussis was charged with 14 counts including oral copulation/sexual penetration with a child under 10-years-old and lewd acts upon a child.
He entered not guilty pleas before suffering the stroke.
Mr Philippoussis allegedly assaulted the girls for almost a year in different locations around San Diego including his car, home and a tennis complex.
Mr Philippoussis, the father of former world top 10 Australian tennis star Mark Philippoussis, was arrested during a morning raid at his San Diego home in July 2017 and was held at San Diego County Jail until he suffered the stroke in November last year.
Mr Philippoussis’ lawyer Ryan Tegnelia had initially asked for the case to be dismissed six months ago but Judge Daniel Goldstein agreed with prosecutors to wait until Wednesday’s hearing to make a decision.
Mr Tegnelia said Mark Philippoussis and his family were happy to have the charges dismissed.
“They are glad there is some sense of closure and now he can just move on with his final days instead of the court process hanging over him,” Mr Tegnelia said.
Prosecutors can re-file the charges if Mr Philippoussis “somehow miraculously comes out of this coma and is competent” to stand trial, Mr Tegnelia said.