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Florida doctor accused of using laughing gas to sexually assault women found dead

NAPLES, Fla. — A Southwest Florida cosmetic doctor accused of sexually assaulting two women while they were sedated in a medical spa was found dead, authorities said.

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Eric Andrew Salata, 54, of Naples, was found with a gunshot wound to his head, the medical examiner’s office confirmed to WFTX-TV. A deputy found Salata after seeing a boot sticking up out of a wooded area near the physician’s home, according to WINK-TV. There was a pistol next to his leg, the television station reported.

Salata was arrested on Nov. 21 and charged with two counts of sexual battery to a physically helpless person, according to Collier County Sheriff’s Office online booking records.

According to Collier County court records, Salata paid $100,000 bail immediately after his arrest, the Naples Daily News reported.

According to the Naples Police Department, the two women, who are 51 and 73, were at Salata’s practice at the Pura Vida Medical Spa for a cosmetic procedure, according to the newspaper.

third woman accused him of the same charges two days later, according to WFTX.

“It is disappointing and frustrating that Dr. Salata has escaped justice.,” Adam Horowitz, attorney for one of the victims, told the television station in a written statement. “It took tremendous courage for my client to tell her truth. She was ready to hold him accountable in court.”

Salata was due in court on Dec. 19.

The first victim told police she had a scheduled appointment on Oct. 22, WINK-TV reported. She said she was prescribed Alprazolam, a controlled substance, which she took before arriving at Salata’s office, according to WZVN-TV. The woman said she agreed to have nitrous oxide, known as laughing gas, administered during the procedure to supplement the Xanax and minimize her pain, the television station reported.

The woman told officers that said that while she was not “in her right mind,” she was aware of what was happening, the Daily News reported. According to court documents, the woman claimed that Salata touched her genital area.

The woman said she realized that Salata was allegedly fondling her during the procedure as the laughing gas wore off, the Miami Herald reported. She reported the incident to authorities, who began an investigation and conducted a sexual assault examination, according to the newspaper.

On Monday, the second victim came forward and said she experienced the same situation during her appointment at Salata’s office, the Daily News reported.

The woman told officers that she was awake and alert during the assault, which she said took no more than 15 seconds, according to Collier County court records.

According to an incident report by the sheriff’s office, Salata, who was required to wear an ankle monitor after his arrest, arrived at his home at 10 a.m. EST Monday and did not move after 10:18 a.m. Authorities said Salata left two notes behind at his home, along with his wedding ring and credit cards, the television station reported.

Horowitz, of Fort Lauderdale-based Horowitz Law, told the Daily News in a telephone interview that in cases where a defendant suddenly dies, it becomes a civil issue, rather than a criminal one.

Horowitz added that a civil case can be filed against businesses or estates, according to the newspaper. Horowitz said that his client’s intent is to proceed with a civil lawsuit against Salata’s business, as well as against his estate.

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