A La Plata internist charged with sexually assaulting two female patients is facing new charges that he fondled two other women in his office, authorities said Tuesday.

Charles County Sheriff's Office officials said Waheed U. Akthar, 54, assaulted the two women in November and early this year the same way he is alleged to have assaulted the first two -- by fondling their breasts under the guise of performing a medical exam.

Since Akthar's original charges were publicized last month, 20 women have reported similar incidents, but the 12-month statute of limitations has expired on all but the two newest cases, said Kristen Adkins, spokeswoman for the sheriff's office.

Akthar, who was seeing patients Tuesday at his office at the White Plains Medical Center at 10583 Theodore Green Blvd., did not return calls seeking comment.

The doctor, who was charged with two counts each of second-degree assault and fourth-degree sex assault July 21, said in an interview with The Washington Post last month that he is innocent and that he was performing breast exams on the women as part of physical examinations they had requested.

He also said that at least one of the women was suffering from depression, which, he suggested, explained what he called her false accusation.

According to the sheriff's office, a 23-year-old Mechanicsville woman told investigators June 30 that she visited Akthar's office for treatment of stomach pains in January or February and Akhtar pulled up her shirt and bra, exposing her breasts.

The woman told investigators that Akthar then fondled her breasts without her consent for several minutes without giving her any medical reason for doing so. The woman, who has been Akthar's patient for more than two years, also said that after the exam, Akthar put his head on her shoulder. She said that no nurse assistant was present during the incident.

On July 9, a 25-year-old Alexandria woman, who had visited Akthar's office in November for a physical exam, told investigators that Akthar grabbed her breasts over her shirt and bra and fondled them for several seconds.

According to the sheriff's office, the woman said Akthar grabbed her breasts two additional times during the exam, telling her at one point that she was a "pretty girl."

Akthar has practiced medicine in White Plains for 14 years. A 1974 graduate of Osmania University in India, he did postgraduate training in Chicago and Jacksonville, Fla.

A trial date for the first set of charges has been set for Oct. 8. With the summons last week, Akthar has been ordered to appear for a preliminary hearing Aug. 23.

According to the original charges filed last month, a 21-year-old patient went to Akthar's office Oct. 27 complaining of a cold. During an exam, Akthar fondled the woman's breasts, according to the summons. Authorities also charge that Akthar kissed the woman on her neck and shoulder.

On June 3, when another 21-year-old woman went to Akthar's office to be treated for poison ivy on her ankles, Akthar "thrust his hands under her bra" and fondled her and kissed her on her back and buttocks, the charging papers allege.

The statement of charges says that the woman, who had been a patient of Akthar's for two or three years, was familiar with how a breast exam is performed because she had received several from her gynecologist and that Akthar's actions were not an exam.

The Washington Post generally does not name the victims of alleged sexual assault.

If convicted of all eight counts, Akthar faces a combined maximum penalty of 44 years in prison, according to the sheriff's office.

Detectives are urging any patients who believe they may have been assaulted by Akthar -- regardless of when -- to contact them at the La Plata district station, 301-932-2222.

Officials at the Baltimore-based Maryland Board of Physicians said Akthar is still licensed to practice medicine and that his license would not be revoked unless he is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude. The board's Web page shows that no disciplinary action has been reported against Akthar in the past 10 years.