A former Casper doctor accused of sexually assaulting his patients is set to go to trial on Monday. The court proceedings are scheduled to last through Friday.
Paul Harnetty, a gynecologist, will stand trial in Natrona County District Court on 10 felonies: eight counts of second-degree sexual assault and two counts of third-degree sexual assault.
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.
One of those women told investigators that he repeatedly touched the same area and asked the same questions. Another woman said she could smell alcohol on his breath during two exams. Nurses were always in the rooms at the start of the exams, the women said, but either appeared to not pay attention or left the room at some point.
Another former patient told police that she and Harnetty had consensual sex, but that the doctor continued to make sexual advances and touch her inappropriately after she asked to return to a strictly professional patient-doctor relationship.
The doctor was arrested in January 2017 in Minnesota and extradited to Wyoming. Prosecutors charged him with 12 counts of felony sexual assault and one count of attempted drug possession.
A Natrona County Circuit Court judge later found that enough probable cause existed for 10 of the sex assault charges to be bound over to district court, where felonies are handled. The drug charge was also bound over and Harnetty will stand trial on that charge in separate proceedings.
The trial has already been rescheduled twice: it was initially scheduled for June, and then pushed back to August. When the August date came around, the case was rescheduled for winter. Both delays came at the request of Harnetty’s attorneys.
Harnetty is no longer licensed to practice medicine in Wyoming, having voluntarily relinquished his Wyoming physician license in October 2016, after the state medical board began an investigation against him for wrongful practice.
Harnetty graduated from medical school at the University of South Florida. He then trained in Baltimore, Las Vegas and Chicago. He also previously served in the U.S. Army.