The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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October 29, 2011

Another woman claims molestation by ophthalmologist

MANKATO — A third woman has reported she believes she was sexually assaulted by a former Mankato Clinic ophthalmologist who is facing felony charges for two similar incidents.

The third alleged victim was mentioned during a pre-trial hearing for 50-year-old Todd James Gavin, who is currently working at the Madelia Community Hospital and Clinic. Her  allegations won’t result in any additional charges because she said the incident happened about four years ago. The charges that would apply have to be filed within three years of when the incident happened, said Mike Hanson, assistant Blue Earth County attorney.

Hanson told District Court Judge Bradley Walker that, if Gavin’s case goes to trial, he is considering calling the third alleged victim to show evidence of prior assaults.

Two women contacted Mankato police in 2010 to report  they had been sexually assaulted by Gavin during eye exams that May. As a result of the allegations, Gavin was charged with two counts of felony fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of gross misdemeanor fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct.

One woman reported she was asked to remove her clothing during an exam to see if a shingles outbreak had harmed her eyes. The second woman reported Gavin had her bare her breasts and touched them after asking if she had received annual breast exams. That woman also said Gavin touched her lower abdomen and inner thigh after asking her to remove her pants.

During Friday’s hearing, Gavin’s attorney, Michael McDonald of St. Paul, told Walker he would be requesting Gavin’s written reports from those exams. Hanson said he would oppose the request because the Mankato Clinic has determined the records belong to the clinic and the alleged victims.

“Our position on that is our victims have a privacy issue and don’t want to release the documents,” Hanson said.

Walker said if he did issue an order to have the documents turned over, he would likely review them before deciding if any of the information should be released to McDonald.

Both Hanson and McDonald agreed to do what they could to obtain information from an investigation completed by the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office. That investigation resulted in a reprimand from the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice. There were four victims in that investigation, including the two involved in the criminal charges.

Gavin left the Mankato Clinic before the reprimand was issued. He is now required to be accompanied by a chaperone if he examines patients below the neck. He also paid a $4,083 civil penalty, was required to complete a “boundaries” course and must meet quarterly with a member of the medical board. Those restrictions apply until March 2014.

Gavin’s next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 31.

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