UPDATE: Casper Doctor Sentenced To 20-30 Years In Prison For Sexual Assault
Former Casper doctor Paul Harnetty was sentenced to 20-30 years in prison for sexual assault and attempted possession of the synthetic steroid Nandrolone during a hearing in Natrona County District Court on Friday.
The actual sentence handed down by Judge Thomas Sullins was not less than 10 and not more than 15 years on each count of sexual assault, to be served consecutively, or one following the other.
Sullins also imposed $2,500 fines for each count.
The judge gave him a suspended four- to five-year sentence and three years of supervised probation on the drug count. This sentence will be served concurrently with the sexual assault sentences.
In January, a jury found Harnetty guilty of two counts of second-degree sexual assault committed against two different patients.
Each conviction is punishable two to 20 years in prison.
The jury, which deliberated for about six hours, acquitted him on five other counts of second-degree sexual assault and one count of third-degree sexual assault after a five-day trial.
Harnetty has remained in custody since the conviction.
In February, he pleaded guilty in a separate case to attempted possession of the steroid Nandrolone, a felony which is punishable by up to five years imprisonment and a fine of $10,000.
According to the plea agreement, Harnetty would not spend any time in prison, though prosecutors could ask for a suspended prison sentence.
Friday, Harnetty wore a simple orange jumpsuit, sat impassively during the hearing, said nothing, and only briefly smiled at his mother as he left the courtroom.
Harnetty, an obstetrician/gynecologist, did not apologize at any point in the proceeding.
Victims, their friends and families, and those involved with local groups raising awareness of sexual assault sat on one side of the courtroom, while friends and his mother sat on the other side.
Only three people spoke to the court.
A victim recounted the effects his acts had on her when she was pregnant three years ago.
"For him it was five minutes here, five minutes there," she said. "He stole three years of my life."
She asked Sullins to consider all the other years of lives he stolen.
But a nurse who knew Harnetty for five years spoke on his behalf, saying he was a man of character, delivered 300 babies a year, and performed hundreds of surgeries a year.
The court, she said, never heard from the thousands of people who like him and his care.
His mother, 72, said she lives in Florida and his children live about an hour away from her. His children miss him, she said.
Assistant District Attorney Mike Schafer then made his argument for Harnetty's sentencing, referring to the woman who gave a victim impact statement.
During the trial, she testified that Harnetty told her he had a fetish for pregnant women and hoped he would be the father of her next child. He also told her she had a high risk pregnancy and that she needed to see him at least once a week. That caused a lot of anxiety. Later in her pregnancy, another doctor examined her and told her the pregnancy was normal.
The treatment she received was the opposite of what should be happening, Schafer said. "It should be the most beautiful moment of a woman's life."
The other victim, who lives in another state and could not afford to fly to Casper to give a victim impact statement, knew from the beginning that Harnetty was not good for her because he was condescending, made small talk during exams, and touched her inappropriately, Schafer said. "He did not heal. He destroyed."
Schafer asked Sullins to impose 16- to 18-year sentences for both counts to run consecutively.
Schafer added an anecdote and submitted a photo as evidence about an incident when law enforcement officers were investigating Harnetty on the illegal steroid charge. An officer took a picture of his Jeep, which had a license plate that read, "RAGE."
On the other hand, Harnetty's defense attorney Don Fuller cited the presentence investigation report that said he posed low risks of recidivism, violence, future criminal activity and substance abuse.
Fuller also reminded Sullins that of the original 12 counts, only two resulted in convictions, he said. "All we're asking for is fair."
Even though the convictions of second-degree sexual assault carried a mandatory minimum two years in prison, Fuller did not specify how much time he thought Harnetty should serve.
Before handing down the prison sentences, Sullins outlined the four purposes of imprisonment: rehabilitation, retribution, deterrence on the part of the defendant, and the effect of deterrence on public behavior.
"Obviously, the seriousness of the offenses is huge," he said.
Sullins detailed the terms of the prison sentences for the sexual assault crimes, and the suspended sentence for the attempted steroid possession.
He adjourned the hearing.
Then it got strange.
Another Harnetty defense attorney, John Miner, asked if Harnetty could be released on bond during the appeal process to live with his mother and be near his children in Florida.
Sullins sat down and said he'd never heard of such a request before, adding that Miner was making the motion according to law.
Assistant District Attorney Mike Schafer immediately objected, saying he was just handed the motion and needed time to review it.
Miner said the motion was straightforward, adding the basic conditions of release are that Harnetty did not pose a threat to the community and he did not pose a flight risk. "This is not an unreasonable request."
Miner referred to Harnetty's mother's appeal for a lenient sentence, saying Harnetty would live with his mother in Florida to be near his children and that there are ways to track his movement.
Schafer objected, saying Harnetty has no ties to Casper save for a few friends. Sullins, he added, said he poses a danger to the community as discussed in evidence presented during the trial and evidence that was not allowed to be presented about Harnetty's past behavior, including sexual harassment claims when he was a doctor in Georgia and sodomizing the 12-year-old brother of his ex-wife.
Sullins responded that the evidence not allowed at trial was prejudicial, but it did indicate issues with community safety.
He added that the 20- to 30-year prison sentence would put a lot of pressure on him to flee.
Sullins turned down Miner's motion and adjourned the hearing.