INDIO, Calif. - A woman testified tearfully Thursday that a doctor groped her two consecutive days during a stint as medical assistant at the Palm Springs clinic where he worked.
Dr. Daniel Glywn Walters, a 67-year-old pulmonologist, is charged with five misdemeanor counts of sexual battery. He was arrested March 7 and is free on $3,500 bail.
In July, Riverside County Superior Court Judge James S. Hawkins ordered that during the criminal proceedings, Walters may not see female patients unless a female chaperone is present, according to court records and the Medical Board of California.
The alleged victim, 18 at the time, started working at SleepWise Sleep & Behavioral Medicine Center on East Tahquitz Canyon Way on March 4 as part of the medical assistant program she was enrolled in via a local college, according to Palm Springs police and the prosecution.
On her second day at the clinic, Walters showed her some images from a CT scan, she said. She testified that he showed her a collarbone on the screen, then touched her collarbone 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.
Heming asked why she didn't tell him to stop.
``He's a doctor, and I saw him as an authority figure ... I was scared because I knew that his office had an opening for a job for medical assistant ... I wanted to be one of those people that got hired,'' the woman said.
Heming asked the woman what she thought would happen if she said no to Walters.
``That he wouldn't like me, that I wouldn't get hired at his office ... I just felt really intimidated.
Walters did something similar on another occasion and, after both, he asked her if touching her was all right, she testified.
The first day, she said ``Yeah, whatever.'' The second time he asked, she answered ``Yeah, like sarcastically,'' she testified.
The next day, 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.
He motioned her closer and touched both her breasts, her privates and anus, she testified.
``He asked me if it was fun,''she said.
``Was it fun?'' Heming asked.
``No, it wasn't at all,'' she said.
``Did you tell him it wasn't OK?'' Heming asked.
``No, I just wanted to get out of there,'' she said.
She said she talked to an employee at her school after Walters groped her a second time, and that person called police.
In her opening statement today, Heming told jurors that the case was about ``an abuse of power and authority.''
Walters used medical jargon while he was with the woman, "as if this happened every day,'' the prosecutor said.
``(The woman) was very uncomfortable and it was written all over her face,'' Heming said. She said the woman was ``too shocked and too afraid to say anything to him.''
Heming said Walters admitted under questioning that he touched the woman inappropriately and had done the same type of thing to two others in the same medical assistant program.
``(The woman) will tell you she was too scared to say no and the defendant knew that and took advantage of her ... it was not consensual. It was not free,'' Heming said.
Walters' attorney, Rod Soda, told jurors in his opening statement that 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.
In the second alleged groping instance, Walters again asked ``Is this OK?''' Soda said. ``By her own admission she will tell you she never articulates a no.''
``She felt trapped but he didn't know it,'' he said. `` ... if he would have known there was any discomfort, he would have stopped,'' the defense attorney said. ``He thought he had her permission.''
Walters has been practicing in Palm Springs since 1979, according to SleepWise's website.
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