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Cop using ‘Zoloft defense’ for rape says he was 'falling apart'

Defense attorney James Blatt, left, and Anthony Orban in May.

A former police detective convicted of raping a waitress in Fontana will continue his testimony Wednesday in his attempt to persuade a San Bernardino County jury that the antidepressant Zoloft turned him insane at the time of the attack.

Anthony Orban briefly took the stand Tuesday, telling the jury that he was "falling apart" in the months leading up to the attack. Not only had he lost his home to foreclosure, but his marriage was a shambles and he had turned to the bottle to numb himself.

"I was depressed. I was severely just depressed," Orban said.

A New York psychiatrist, a key witness for the defense, also testified that in the days before the rape, the former Westminster police detective believed he was possessed by demons and thought of killing himself, his wife and their dog.

Last week, the same jury found Orban guilty of kidnapping and multiple counts of rape and sexual assault, dismissing the defense's claims that Zoloft had rendered Orban mentally "unconscious" and therefore not responsible for his actions.

During the sanity phase of the trial, the defense has the burden to prove that Orban "more likely than not" was unable to tell the difference between right and wrong at the time of the attack.

If the jury finds him to have been insane, Orban would be sent to a state mental hospital for treatment and could eventually be released. If he is determined to be sane, Orban probably faces a life sentence in prison.

Dr. Peter Breggin, a psychiatrist who has been a vocal critic of psychotropic drugs, told jurors that Orban had stopped taking the prescribed antidepressant, then resumed it at full dose, provoking a psychotic break during which he was "delirious" and not fully aware of his actions.

"He did not know what he was doing was legally and mentally wrong at the time of the assault," Breggin testified in the Rancho Cucamonga courtroom.

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-- Phil Willon in Rancho Cucamonga

Photo: Defense attorney James Blatt, left, and Anthony Orban in May. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

 
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