Facing a courtroom of jury members, attorneys, observers and the suspect accused of pretending to be a doctor to set up sexual assaults, a woman calmly held her head high as she answered questions.
“How did he introduce himself to you?” asked Utah County Deputy Attorney Carl Hollan. “What name did he give?”
“I believe he just said his name: Borzin Mottaghian,” the woman said.
“If you would’ve known he wasn’t a doctor, would you have participated in this?” Hollan asked.
“Never,” the woman said.
She began sobbing as she left the witness stand after testifying for more than an hour about the day she agreed to undergo what she thought was a research study but became a sexual assault.
“I didn’t have words. I don’t have words. It was awful to find out that I’d been so grossly taken advantage of by someone,” she said.
Mottaghian, 35, dressed in a suit and tie, drank an energy drink and sat quietly next to his attorneys during the first day of his jury trial in 4th District Court in American Fork.
He is charged with pretending to be a medical examiner conducting “anatomy research” on women at an office in Provo. However, he did not have any medical certification and allegedly raped two women who agreed to help with the research study in October 2017.
“I thought he really, really knew what he was talking about and I trusted what he was saying to be true,” the woman said.
She explained she didn’t have a job and ran out of savings in her bank account the day she found a Craigslist ad asking for volunteers for a medical study. She had participated in research studies before, and the ad promised to pay her $200.
When she set up an appointment and met Mottaghian at the Provo office, the woman said she believed he was a legitimate doctor and ran an authentic company to conduct the research.
After having her sign a nondisclosure form, Mottaghian had the woman undress and raped her and sexually abused her under the pretense of an “examination,” she said.
The woman explained Mottaghian spoke during the assault to say his actions were part of the research. But when she told him she was uncomfortable and the exam felt sexual, he reportedly brushed off her concern and continued to assault her.
“I knew what he was doing was not what a doctor would be doing and I was afraid to say something,” the woman said. “I was thinking about what I could say to have him stop but was afraid because of his answer before.”
A second woman testified she thought there were at least 100 other people who had also participated in the study based on statements made by Mottaghian and paperwork she signed.
Mottaghian again told her that he was a doctor developing a new feminine hygiene product, charging documents state. He also had the woman sign a nondisclosure form and undress before reportedly raping and sexually abusing her.
Court documents state both women, who do not know each other, had concerns they had been deceived and separately reported to police what happened.
A female undercover officer set up an appointment with Mottaghian later in the month. No examination took place, however, as deputies with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office entered with a search warrant and arrested Mottaghian, court documents state.
Before the sexual assaults, another witness testified Mottaghian had reportedly talked about setting up an adult novelty product shop online.
The witness said he had created websites for Mottaghian’s businesses Cafe on Fire and Cocoa and Coffee Co. in Provo. But when the witness learned Mottaghian was setting up appointments to test his adult products, the witness advised him to stop.
“I didn’t want to offend Borzin even though I thought his actions were questionable and weird,” the witness said. “I didn’t think anything illegal was happening despite being inappropriate.”
If convicted, Mottaghian could face prison for 14 first-degree felonies of object rape and attempted object rape, two second-degree felonies of forcible sexual abuse and one third-degree felony of attempted forcible sexual abuse.
He pleaded not guilty to all the charges in February 2018. The jury trial has been rescheduled six times, including earlier in the year when Mottaghian threatened to assault his defense attorney.
The four-day trial is set to continue until Friday.