Houston Chronicle

Surgeon put on leave after arrest in felony assault case

- By Brian Rogers brian.rogers@chron.com twitter.com/brianjroge­rs

A surgeon at Houston Methodist Hospital was placed on leave following his arrest on a felony assault charge arising from an altercatio­n at his Woodlands home last year with his then-fiancée.

Court records show that Dr. Rafael Lugo was charged with assault of a family member in December for allegedly breaking the finger of his girlfriend at the time, former KHOU news anchor Christine Haas, while trying to keep her from leaving his home.

Haas left Houston in 2012 to work for a television station in San Diego. She later moved to Austin, where she worked at KTBC before leaving to start her own public relations business.

On Dec. 8, Haas and Lugo got into an argument and she tried to leave. Authoritie­s allege that Lugo grabbed her by the hand, dislocatin­g and fracturing her left ring finger. The former newswoman went through surgery to repair the damage with three permanent screws.

Haas told police that Lugo had pushed her around before, according to an arrest warrant issued in April. The 49-year-old surgeon denied that he broke his former fiancée’s finger. He told investigat­ors she slammed it in a door.

If convicted of the second-degree felony, Lugo could face a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Lugo, a licensed physician since 1999, works at Houston Methodist and Houston Methodist Willowbroo­k, according to his medical license. He did not respond to messages left Monday at his medical practice.

Stefanie Asin, a spokeswoma­n for the hospital, said the physician was placed on leave pending the outcome of the criminal case.

Haas declined to comment Monday.

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