Former Casper Doctor Hears Drug and Sexual Assault Charges
A former Casper doctor heard all 12 counts of sexually assaulting six local women, and another count of drug possession during his initial appearance in Natrona County Circuit Court on Friday.
Paul Michael Harnetty, 46, was arrested in Minnesota on Jan. 20, and returned to Wyoming.
Circuit Court Judge Steven Brown set Harnetty's bond at $50,000 on the sexual assault charges and $50,000 on the drug charge.
Brown said he will allow Harnetty to leave the state because his home is now near the Twin Cities in Minnesota.
However, Harnetty must have no contact with the alleged victims, nor possess firearms, alcohol or controlled substances.
He will appear in circuit court within several weeks for his preliminary hearing for a judge to determine whether his case should be bound over to Natrona County District Court for trial.
Harnetty is charged with nine counts of second-degree sexual assault, and three counts of third-degree sexual assault, according to court documents.
If convicted on all counts he could face between 18 years and 225 years of imprisonment.
The Wyoming Board of Medicine issued Harnetty his license on April 12, 2012. He was an obstetrician/gynecologist at the Wyoming Medical Center and the Community Health Centers of Central Wyoming.
Meanwhile, the Wyoming Board of Medicine received complaints about him and opened an investigation on Feb. 26, 2016.
In the previous year, while on call, he was drinking and pounding on a neighbor’s door with a baseball bat on Feb. 5-6, 2015, and was jailed for public intoxication. The Wyoming Medical Center suspended his privileges and placed him on medical leave to get treatment for alcohol abuse, but failed to tell his obstetrics patients he would not be able to meet with them during that time. The WMC initially reinstated his privileges but later declined to do so. He also quit practicing at the Community Health Centers.
Harnetty voluntarily offered to relinquish his license on Sept. 28, and apparently had moved to Minnesota from Casper some time before that. The board accepted Harnetty’s offer on Oct. 7.
The sexual assault case took a long time to investigate.
It started on Oct. 1, 2015, when a now retired Casper Police detective received a report of three women who claimed Harnetty conducted himself inappropriately in 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 on Jan. 13.
Some of the alleged victims came forward after seeing posts on local social media, according to the heavily redacted court documents.
Interviewees described their experiences as being uncomfortable, scared, and “freaked me out.”
Some patients said he would ask about their sexual behavior. He asked about having three-way sex with some, and he had an affair with one. He paid one woman for sex.
Some said Harnetty often smelled of alcoholic beverages and he didn’t wear gloves during examinations.
Many told investigators they would never go back to Harnetty.
He harassed and threatened one patient and her husband, and police told the couple to contact authorities if it continued.
At the end of one interview, one victim said, she “‘wouldn’t trust (Harnetty) with a rat’s life, he was the worst doctor I’ve ever experienced in my entire life.'”