Stuart Copperman was, to all appearances, an old-fashioned pediatrician. For 35 years, he ran a bustling practice in Merrick, Long Island, where he was revered by parents as an authority on everything from colic to chickenpox. Well-dressed, affable and tan year-round, he was always available in an emergency, and even made house calls.

When he told mothers that their daughters were old enough to see him alone — without a parent in the room, so the girls could speak freely — they accepted it as sound medical practice. Girls who told their mothers that the pediatrician had rubbed their genitals or inserted his fingers into their vaginas were often met with disbelief.

“He was such a charming, affectionate, involved man — we all thought he was a god,” said Dina Ribaudo, 43, who lives in Arizona. “You just couldn’t imagine this bright, shining light ever hurting anyone.” Mr. Copperman started molesting her when she was 8, she said.

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