Former Casper Doctor’s Sexual Assault Trial Delayed Until 2018
The trial will be delayed probably until next year for a former Casper doctor accused of abusing his position of authority by sexually assaulting six former patients, according to an order by a Natrona County District Court judge on Tuesday.
The attorney for the prosecution, the attorney for the defense and defendant Paul Harnetty himself were scheduled for the second time for a hearing -- a 404(b) hearing -- about whether a defendant's previous acts may be admitted at trial.
However, defense attorney Ian Sandefer said told Judge Thomas Sullins he had to take over the complicated case from his colleague Don Fuller, who has been hospitalized.
As a result of the transfer of responsibility, Harnetty somehow was not reminded that he had to appear in court for this hearing as a condition of his bond.
Sandefer accepted the responsibility for the miscommunication and the mix-up for Harnetty's failure to appear, and said he has a lot to learn about the case.
Sandefer previously had filed a motion asking the court to extend the deadlines.
And Assistant District Attorney Kevin Taheri is taking over the prosecution from Assistant District Attorney Brett Johnson.
A frustrated Sullins said he accepted Sandefer's reasons, but another delay isn't helping justice because his office had to do a lot of work to prepare for this hearing.
"I am a little bit disappointed because we had a huge number of motions brought and cited," the judge said.
So Sullins will conduct the 404(b) hearing in two months, and set the trial date for three months after that.
The sexual assault investigation 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, based on the different initials of the women cited in the affidavits filed in September and the charging documents filed in January 2017.
In February 2016, the Wyoming Board of Medicine opened an investigation of him, and found he had been arrested for drinking and pounding on a neighbor's door with a baseball bat in February 2015.
On Jan. 20, 2017, Harnetty was arrested in Minnesota.
He returned to hear Casper to hear 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.
Harnetty, an obstetrician/gynecologist, also was charged with unlawfully possessing the synthetic steroid Nandrolone.
He pleaded not guilty in April.
Harnetty remains free on $50,000 personal recognizance bond for the drug charge, and posted a $50,000 cash bond in the sexual assault case.