MANKATO — To hear prosecutors sum it up, Todd Gavin is a calculating sexual predator, a man who saw the opportunity to take advantage of two young female clients, tricking them into thinking it was within the wheelhouse of an eye doctor to examine a patient’s breasts.
Gavin’s attorneys, of course, tell a different story.
In their view, Gavin was just doing the job he’s been doing for 20 years in a medical career that has never before been besmirched by accusations of sexual impropriety.
After a day of jury selection, Gavin’s criminal trial got going Tuesday. At stake is Gavin’s career and, theoretically, incarceration. Gavin, a former Mankato Clinic doctor, now practices in Madelia.
Gavin was facing two felony and two gross misdemeanor charges for allegedly having two female patients remove their clothing for no reason during eye exams in 2010 in Mankato.
The charges were filed in July 2011 after a woman told police she had been sexually assaulted by Gavin. He had already been reprimanded and sanctioned by the state for inappropriately touching other female patients, including a second victim cited in the complaint.
Assistant Blue Earth County Attorney Mike Hanson told jurors the issue is very simple.
“What the defendant did,” he said, referring the alleged victims, “was have them remove their clothing and examined their breasts for an eye exam.”
He said both victims, when they left Gavin’s exam room, felt violated.
“He sexually assaulted two women in the span of an hour,” Hanson told the jury.
Gavin’s attorney, Richard Ohlenberg of Minneapolis, said that what Hanson describes as predatory behavior was just Gavin being a good doctor.
He said one of the victims brought her mother along during exams, and the mother urged Gavin, Ohlenberg said, to be extra thorough.
Ohlenberg said Gavin asked one of the patients to take one of her three layers off, then turned back to a computer to enter some findings. When he turned back around, the woman had removed all layers except her bra.
“He was a little bit flabbergasted and discombobulated,” Ohlenberg said.
The day included testimony from police officer Rob Sadusky, who investigated the case, and from both of the alleged victims.
The trial is expected to last all week.