Former Casper Doctor Pleads Not Guilty to Sexual Assault, Drug Charges
A former Casper doctor accused of abusing his position of authority by sexually assaulting six local women -- former patients of his -- entered not guilty pleas during his arraignment Thursday morning in Natrona County District Court.
Paul Michael Harnetty, 46, pleaded not guilty to eight counts of second-degree sexual assault, two counts of third-degree sexual assault and one count of attempting to possess the synthetic steroid Nandrolone, a Schedule III controlled substance.
If convicted on all counts, Harnetty could face 16-190 years in prison and $110,000 in fines.
Harnetty was an obstetrician/gynecologist at Wyoming Medical Center and the Community Health Center of Central Wyoming, having been licensed by the Wyoming Board of Medicine on April 12, 2012.
The board received complaints about him and opened an investigation of their own on Feb. 26, 2016.
In that case, Harnetty allegedly had been drinking and pounding on a neighbor's door with baseball bat the night of Feb. 5-6, 2015. He was arrested for public intoxication.
Wyoming Medical Center suspended Harnetty's privileges and placed him on medical leave so he could be treated for alcohol abuse, but the hospital failed to tell his obstetrics patients he wouldn't be meeting with them.
Harnetty relinquished his license Sept. 28, having moved from Casper to Minnesota some time before that.
He was arrested Jan. 20 and brought back to Wyoming to face the charges against him.
A Casper police detective began investigating the sexual assault case on Oct. 1, 2015, after three women claimed Harnetty behaved inappropriately during their physical and verbal examinations.
Three more women came forward with similar accusations over the next year. Some came forward after seeing posts on social media.
Some patients reportedly said Harnetty would ask about their sexual behavior. He allegedly asked about having a three-way with some victims, had an affair with one woman and paid another woman for sex.
Patients said Harnetty often smelled of alcohol and didn't wear gloves during examinations. Many told investigators they would never go back to Harnetty.
In court Thursday, defense attorney John Miner was heard on a motion for the state to produce what's called a bill of particulars. Miner asked to be provided specific dates on which the crimes charged in counts four, five and six are alleged to have occurred.
Assistant District Attorney Brett Johnson said the state is working to narrow the dates as much as possible, but noted that the victim referenced in those charges reported a variety of inappropriate conduct occurred each time she saw Harnetty.
District Court Judge Thomas Sullins granted the defense motion and ordered the state to produce a bill of particulars within seven days.
Miner also asked for a five-day trial rather than the three-day trial currently set for June 26, saying the matter simply could not be tried in such a short period. Sullins noted the request.
Harnetty remains free on $50,000 personal recognizance bond for the drug charge and has posted $50,000 cash bond in the sexual assault case.