Charges against renowned UVA hand surgeon dismissed

Back in April, Dr. Abhinav "Bobby" Chhabra, 42, an orthopaedic surgeon and co-director of the new University of Virginia Hand Center, was arrested at his Glenmore home on assault charges stemming from a March 22 incident involving Nancy Heister of Troy, Virginia, a nurse and patient care coordinator at the Center. But at a 1pm hearing June 22 in Albemarle County General District Court, those charges were dropped in less than half a minute.

Chhabra and his wife, who was smiling at her husband throughout the brief afternoon hearing, defense attorney Rhonda Quagliana, and Will Hendricks, Albemarle County assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney, were present in the empty courtroom, but Heister, who had Chhabra arrested for allegedly assaulting her in the hallway at the Center, was not present. Calls to Heister have gone unanswered.

"The decision not to proceed was made with the victim," says Hendricks. Asked why that decision was made, Hendricks declined to comment.

According to a UVA Medical Center spokesperson Peter Jump, Heister no longer works at the Hand Center, but is still employed at the Medical Center. Asked if Chhabra or the Medical Center would be releasing a statement regarding the alleged incident, Heister's relocation, or the court decision, Jump said the Medical Center would have nothing to add.

21 comments

Dr. Bobby is my doctor...no way did he perform what the so called employee claims...

She want easy money..$$$$$$

comment on something you have knowledge of othetr than being a patient........OF COURSE he's nice to you you're paying him !!!

He's a brilliant surgeon and an elegant gentleman. I hope this story gets as much notice as the first, that besmirched his name.

Leson to learn do not run your mouth, some people strike back.He is my hero.

Vindicated....

as a non involved observer, it appeared to me from the start that she was after an easy payday.

OMG. Do you really think that the good doctor is going to hit on his paying patients? Not when there are subservient staff available. Get your heads out of the sand. This town is rife with men in power abusing staff.

How do we know the good doctor did not pay off his accuser?

I don't believe the commonwealth would have even made an arrest if there were nothing. A witness not showing up is not vindication...

Lets hear her side....

"the good all boy mentality" is alive and well
at UVAHSC
nurses are not subservient and hand maidens to the
physician !
Florence Nightingale just rolled over in her tomb~~
there is more to this story that meets the eye
no $$$ BUT
a white wash phenomenon

"This town is rife with men in power abusing staff"

Congratulations. It's tough to denigrate a whole town's worth of men on the basis of one dropped charge, but you've taken an admirable swing at it.

One might as well say, "This town is rife with conniving women trying to make a quick buck", but I'd need a larger sample than one disputed case where no facts have been produced in court to say something so stupid.

To Bill Marshall -- it seems like today was her opportunity to present her side. She was a no-show? And where does the good doctor go to restore his reputation? The Hook? I doubt we'll hear much more about this case.

@ Lynn, You hit the nail on the head. If she had a story to tell, why didn't she? The Commonwealth HAS to respond to these sorts of accusations with action. Maybe he did it, maybe he didn't...I bet there's a lot of liability if you lie in open court.

Oh, by the way, Bill doesn't let facts, rights, or common sense stand in the way of his arguments. Love you Bill!

It was obvious from the get go . The woman bumped into a ladder ,pranced off in a snit blaming the world . She got a new job out of it and probably a promotion shortly . Not a bad deal for her . The Dr still has the stigma placed on him . There is no way to remouve the smear even if he sued and won the issue would just linger in the public .

I wonder if the good doctor has Albert Haynesworth's lawyer. He's really good at making criminal charges go away in a flash of cash, which Virginia law allows

Of course it was dropped. Duh. I still say this was a perfect example of yellow journalism on the part of the Hook. Shameful.

How does ANYONE see this as "vindication"?! There was no trial. The evidence wasn't heard and found to be inadequate...it wasn't heard, PERIOD. This stinks of her actually having BEEN privately paid off. While I have no knowledge of that, neither does anyone else commenting on here have any knowledge that it didn't happen. By the way, BOTH things can be true: he could have committed a de minimis assault on her AND she was interested in turning it into a payday. It happens all the time, and only the naive think that every case involves one angel and one devil. What gave her story credence was the fact that she claimed it was SUCH a de minimis assault. If she were going to make something up, she would have invented something a little more damning. Sorry if I don't agree with other commentors on here that the fact this doctor is an "elegant gentleman" means he couldn't have TOUCHED somebody, which is all that must be shown in an assault case.

and sorry, now that I think about it TOUCHING is all that needs to be shown in a battery case; they don't even need to show THAT much in an assault case. It would have been a better article if it explained whether Ms. Heister was subpoenaed or recognized to be there, and whether the prosecutor had had any contact with her prior to this court date.

@ random citizen, If touching (or less) is all that is needed to prosecute a battery (or assault) case, you'd better have some pretty damning evidence. You're right, no one but the doctor and the victim know what really happened on that day, so it seems irresponsible to prosecute on such tenuous evidence. And maybe a little shifty to report on it. No one won in this particular case.

omg, by "damning", do you simply mean "clear and convincing" or do you mean "showing great lack of morals"? Because yes, on a he said-she said case, you DO need to show pretty clear and convincing evidence (we call it "evidence of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt"), but we do not require ANY showing of lack of morals or of being somehow morally in the wrong. If you touch someone and it wasn't incidental (like a brush in the hallway or a tap on the shoulder to get someone's attention), and the person didn't like it or want it, then it is a battery, plain and simple. You don't have to have even had bad intent as the touching person. I'm not saying what the law SHOULD be, I'm simply saying what IT IS. If a person brings a criminal complaint and the evidence has no indication that it is FALSE, they arguably deserve their day in court to try to convince a judge that what they say is true. You're basically saying that the prosecutor should have acted as judge and dismissed her case without ever giving her access to the courts. ACCESS to the courts is the foundation of a society that lives under a rule of law. There is nothing irresponsible about reporting the bringing of a charge. The reporter never implied that he was guilty of it. And here they are publishing a story that indicates the case was dismissed. How is it irresponsible to report truthful facts from the world around us, giving all parties an opportunity to make a statement? You would stifle the free press which is such a touchstone of our American society that it is embodied by the very FIRST Amendment to the highest law of our land. Sorry if I disagree with you and think that the press should be free to print the truth. You assume that all the readers of the town will be idiots who will think that if a charge was brought at all, the doctor MUST be guilty, and that it is therefore irresponsible to print the truth because the town is too stupid to understand the truth. People could argue about whether your lack of faith in the intelligence of people who actually bother to read articles anyway is misplaced or not, but no one that is passionate about our rights and liberties in this country would argue that we should agree to keep quiet about legitimate news just because dumb people might not understand us.

Lol, I think you read a whole lot more into my statement than I said.

I absolutely believe that everyone should get their day in court. She had hers and for whatever reason (to which I am fairly certain you are no more privy than I), she didn't show or had nothing to say. I only argue that you can't un-ring a bell.