UPDATE: Casper Doctor Wouldn’t See Pregnant Woman After She Filed Complaint
An alleged sexual assault victim said Wednesday morning that a former Casper doctor convinced her that she had a risky pregnancy and saw him dozens of times even though she felt uncomfortable during his exams.
"I felt I was going in for reasons other than medical," the woman told a jury in Natrona County District Court on the third day of the five-day trial of obstetrician/gynecologist Paul Harnetty.
But she was willing to endure his behavior because she loved her unborn child more than she disliked Harnetty, she said.
Harnetty is charged with eight counts of second-degree sexual assault and two counts of third-degree sexual assault. If convicted on all counts he could face between 16 and 190 years of imprisonment.
The case began in October 2015 when police received a report of three women who claimed Harnetty conducted himself inappropriately during their verbal and physical examinations. Over the next year, three more women reported such conduct, according to court records.
By the end of Wednesday, the fifth and sixth alleged victims also testified.
The fifth woman said Harnetty tried to sexually arouse her during a longer-than-usual pelvic exam, focused on her external genitalia.
She didn't want to see him again, but she had no choice when he was summoned when she was about to undergo an ultrasound exam. She was lying on the table, he pulled down her pants and began a pelvic exam using his whole hand, she said. "He was inflicting as much pain as he could on my body."
The sixth woman had more than 10 previous exams for her other children with other doctors. But during an exam by Harnetty, he caressed her clitoris, she said. "I was pretty much in shock.... He could not be doing this, he's my doctor, I must be crazy."
Earlier Wednesday, Dr. Stephen Rotholz of the University of Colorado School of Medicine said, with rare exceptions, touching the clitoris has nothing to do with a pelvic exam.
The fifth and sixth women added they filed complaints with the Community Health Centers of Central Wyoming, but the administration did not respond to them.
A former employee of the CHCCW said she quit it in part because she would forward complaints to its chief executive officer and its chief operations officer who never responded.
This employee, who had no medical training, added she was asked once to serve as a chaperone in an office where Harnetty was conducting an exam.
The fourth alleged victim also filed a complaint with the CHCCW, and her testimony was the longest one of the six.
She told the court Tuesday she twice had consensual sex with Harnetty in late 2014, but after that she and he agreed that they would just have a professional relationship.
In April 2015, she learned she was pregnant and said she saw Harnetty 15 to 20 times until October, she said.
But Harnetty's defense attorney Don Fuller reminded her she saw him 40 times for appointments for pelvic exams, eye twitching, restless leg syndrome, sleep medications, a flu shot, and an allergic reaction.
In Aug. 7, Harnetty found a concern that required an ultrasound that needed to be performed in Denver. After that, she praised him and the Community Health Centers on Facebook for their care, Fuller said. "'They are great. I never feel judged. I am so thankful he was on top of it,'" he said, reading her comments.
The number of visits and the praise on Facebook didn't square with her comments that she was increasingly uncomfortable with Harnetty's behavior, Fuller said.
But on Aug. 17, she said Harnetty allegedly assaulted her, yet she had to continue to see him because of the supposedly risky pregnancy.
At one point, he called her, told her that she needed to see him immediately, and she went in four hours later because she thought he found something seriously wrong, she said. "I was freaking out for four hours and he said he just wanted to see me."
During the cross-examination, Assistant District Attorney Mike Schafer asked her about some of the other visits.
She responded that eye-twitching would happen during pregnancy, she had anxiety because of a "mom's worst nightmare about losing a baby," the restless leg syndrome and sleep issues were aspects of the pregnancy and anxiety, too, she said. "I was blaming myself; 'what did I do wrong?'"
Meanwhile, Harnetty would grope her during the visits and told her that after this baby he wanted to get her pregnant.
In late October, eight weeks before she was due to deliver, she filed a complaint with the Community Health Centers and spoke to a Casper police detective.
Shortly after that, Harnetty told her he would no longer see her, she said. "I felt abandoned."
She was able to find another doctor, she said.
That doctor told her that other than a low-but-normal amniotic fluid level, nothing else was high risk and no other pelvic exams were necessary, she said.
Schafer asked what was going through her mind.
"I felt like I was going in for reasons other than medical," she said. "'You're just wanting to see me.'"
The trial resumes at the Townsend Justice Center at 9 a.m. Thursday.