AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money.

Former Georgia doctor found guilty of sexually assaulting patients


A Wyoming jury found Dr. Paul Harnetty guilty on Friday of assaulting two patients during medical exams, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. 

Harnetty, once an ob-gyn in middle Georgia, was acquitted on six other charges.

The doctor left Georgia after losing his hospital privileges and being "disassociated" from his medical group. At the time, some of his patients who were in labor didn't find out he couldn't deliver their babies until they arrived at the hospital.

While Harnetty's Georgia patients knew about his loss of hospital privileges, the criminal trial in Wyoming shed light on other allegations that had not previously been made public about about his practice here. 

Harnetty was never publicly disciplined by Georgia's medical licensing board, the AJC found, paving the way for him to practice in another state.

At the Wyoming trial, six female patients testified during the week-long trial that Harnetty touched them improperly during exams, according to the Star-Tribune's coverage of the trial. Testimony included allegations that Harnetty failed to wear gloves during intimate exams and that his exams were different from others they had experienced, including rubbing them in ways that weren't consistent with a medical exam.

Harnetty plans to appeal, his lawyer told the Star-Tribune.

Harnetty's Georgia medical license is listed as "lapsed" on the website of the Georgia Composite Medical Board. He voluntarily gave up his Wyoming medical license.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a national investigation in 2016 that exposed cases of physician sexual misconduct from around the country. The series documented a permissive attitude in every state that allowed doctors who violated their own patients to stay in practice. Read the AJC's award-winning Doctors & Sex Abuse series here. 


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About the Author

Carrie Teegardin is on the investigative team. She is a graduate of Duke University and has won numerous national journalism awards.