Palm Springs Doctor Who Groped 18-Year-Old Volunteer Convicted of Sexual Battery
An Indio jury deliberated about a day before returning verdicts in the trial of 67-year-old pulmonary specialist Daniel Glywn Walters, who remained free on $3,500 bail.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Harold Hopp scheduled a sentencing hearing for Dec. 6. Walters is facing a year in jail and the possibility of having to register as a convicted sex offender.
The defendant's trial lasted all of Thursday, with jurors going behind closed doors to weigh evidence in the case late in the afternoon and resuming deliberations Oct. 11.
According to trial testimony, the victim started working at SleepWise Sleep & Behavioral Medicine Center on East Tahquitz Canyon Way on March 4 as part of a medical assistant program in which she enrolled via a local college.
On her second day at the clinic, she said, Walters showed her some images from a CT scan and slipped his hand under her scrub top and into her bra, cupping her breast.
"I was in complete shock," she said.
"Did you say anything to Dr. Walters?" Deputy District Attorney Heather Heming asked.
"I didn't say anything. I didn't know what to say," she said, stopping her testimony at times to wipe away tears.
Walters then started talking about the pelvic area, touched her hip, then slipped his hand down her pants and inside her underwear, the witness said.
She testified that she didn't immediately divulge what happened to co-workers or the police because she viewed the doctor as an "authority figure" and also didn't want to knock herself out of the running for a full-time medical assistant position.
The next day - the young woman's third day at the clinic - Walters asked her if she wanted to see another image from a CT scan, she said, adding that she didn't think he'd touch her again. She said she agreed but stood farther away until he motioned her to stand next to him, at which point he touched her breasts, her privates and anus.
"He asked me if it was 'fun,'" she said.
"Was it fun?" Heming asked.
"No, it wasn't at all," she said.
She said she talked to an employee at her school after Walters groped her the second time, and that person called police.
She testified that on both days Walters approached her, he asked after he touched her if it was all right.
The first day, she said "Yeah, whatever."
The second day that he asked, she answered, "'Yeah,' like sarcastically," she testified.
Heming told jurors that the case was about "an abuse of power and authority."
The prosecutor said Walters admitted under questioning that he touched the woman inappropriately and had done the same type of thing to two others enrolled in the same medical assistant program.
Walters' attorney, Rod Soda, said the issue was whether Walters thought he had the woman's consent to touch her. He said his client did touch the woman, but kept asking if it was OK.
"Her response was yes . . . Her own admission was she never said no, never stopped him by grabbing his hand," Soda said. "She felt trapped but he didn't know it . . . If he would have known there was any discomfort, he would have stopped. He thought he had her permission."
Walters was arrested on March 7. He has been practicing in Palm Springs since 1979, according to SleepWise's website.
Reported by City News Service