Jurors at a former Casper doctor’s sexual assault trial will not hear allegations that he raped a child decades ago, District Court Judge Thomas Sullins ruled in early December. The doctor was never charged in relation to those accusations.
Paul Harnetty, a former Casper gynecologist, is facing eight counts of second-degree sexual assault and two counts of third-degree sexual assault in the case. He is also facing one count of attempted possession of a controlled substance in a separate case.
Six female patients have told investigators that Harnetty, touched them during physical examinations in ways that were unusual and made them feel uncomfortable. The women, who did not know each other previously, said that Harnetty’s exams were different from those they had experienced by other doctors. Some women said he touched their genitals without gloves while others said he rubbed them in ways that didn’t seem to be part of a medical exam, according to court documents.
In a decision letter dated Dec. 8, District Court Judge Thomas Sullins disallowed evidence alleging a range of misconduct, including the child rape allegations. The evidence was presented in October in open court and included allegations of sexually harassing a nurse at a Georgia hospital, having to do medical residencies in multiple places due to “improprieties relating to members of the opposite sex” and the details of a 22-month Georgia Medical Board investigation of Harnetty.
In the decision, Sullins wrote that the disallowed evidence was proposed for introduction with the aim of showing motive, intent and lack of mistake or accident, which is required under law for such evidence to be presented to jurors. However, the evidence would prejudice a jury to a degree disallowed by law, the judge determined.
Sullins did determine that some uncharged evidence should be allowed in the trial, including uncharged allegations that he sexually propositioned a patient, had sex with a patient and her husband and smelled of alcohol while examining an alleged victim in the case.
Harnetty is set to go to trial Jan. 22.