Paul Harnetty

Paul Harnetty, a former Casper gynecologist, attends a Natrona County Circuit Court hearing on Feb. 17, 2017 in Casper. A jury convicted Harnetty on Jan. 26 of sexually assaulting two patients. On Thursday, a judge denied his request for a new trial in the case and Harnetty pleaded guilty to a separate felony drug charge. 

A Natrona County judge on Thursday rejected a former Casper doctor’s request for a new trial and acquittal of his convictions for sexually assaulting two of his patients.

Attorneys for Paul Harnetty argued that District Court Judge Thomas Sullins should acquit their client, schedule a new trial or postpone judgment due to a range of procedural issues they alleged in the case.

A jury found the former OB-GYN guilty of two counts of second-degree sexual assault on Jan. 26 for assaulting two patients during exams. Prosecutors originally charged Harnetty with 12 total sexual assault counts, but four counts were dropped and the jury acquitted him of six. He remained in custody Thursday while awaiting sentencing.

One of Harnetty’s attorneys, John Miner, argued that prosecutors brought allegations to trial that the defense team had not previously heard. He said that the prosecution changed the date of one of the assaults between the preliminary hearing and the trial. He also said that his team did not receive some documents from the prosecution until two weeks before trial.

Assistant District Attorney Kevin Taheri disputed Miner’s assertions and said the prosecution did not change the facts of one of the charges. He also noted that Miner did not object to any of these issues before the jury read the verdict.

“I really think the defendant is trying to overcomplicate what happened,” he said.

Sullins immediately denied each of the three separate motions, noting that the defense attorneys did not voice their concerns previously.

“I don’t think we have a situation where I can jump in and take the conviction of the jury,” he said.

Earlier in the morning, Harnetty pleaded guilty to a single count of attempting to possess a controlled substance in a separate case.

If Sullins accepts the plea deal, Harnetty will not spend any time in prison for the drug charge but could face a suspended sentence or intensive probation. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

In the drug case, court documents state that Harnetty attempted to buy 3.6 grams of Nandolone, a synthetic steroid that is also listed as a controlled substance, from a business in China.

Harnetty previously indicated he would plead guilty to the drug charge in October, but later changed his mind after his attorneys and prosecutors differed on specifics in the plea deal.

Harnetty used to work at the Community Health Centers of Central Wyoming Centers of Central Wyoming and had privileges at the Wyoming Medical Center. He voluntarily relinquished his medical license in October 2016.

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Follow features editor Elise Schmelzer on Twitter @eliseschmelzer


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