A doctor who groped a then-18-year-old intern at a Palm Springs clinic was sentenced on Friday to three years probation and 120 days in jail and ordered to register as a convicted sex offender.
Pulmonary and sleep specialist Daniel Glywn Walters, 67, was convicted in October of two counts of sexual battery and acquitted of three additional misdemeanor counts.
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.
``You took a part of my innocence I will never get back by taking advantage of me being naive,'' she said. That was right before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Harold W. Hopp handed down the sentence.
She said Walters abused his authority, ``and I'm not too sure how you can live with yourself.''
The young woman added that God has ``molded me into the person I am today, able to stand up to you ... I'm not 18 anymore, and I'll never be taken advantage of again.''
She said she hopes Walters spends some time thinking about what he did, ``and I hope you learn a huge lesson out of this.''
Walters said he takes responsibility for his behavior, and never meant to cause the woman pain.
``Every day, I am regretful,'' he said before he was sentenced.
The defendant said his behavior destroyed his family -- he is now divorced and his children won't speak to him -- and he is ``virtually bankrupt.'' He said he has been in psychotherapy, and prays for the victim and her family.
Defense attorney Rod Soda said Walters ``made a huge mistake and hurt and lot of people and owned up to that.'' He said the doctor's practice ``went down the toilet because the insurance companies said, `You cannot see patients,''' the state medical board indicated it would take away his license, and he lost hospital privileges.
Hopp noted that he received letters from doctors and patients saying Walters was a good physician, although many of them were dated from before the trial. He said while the verdict was ``catastrophic'' for Walters, the victim also suffered pain and ``great emotional injury.''
She previously testified that on her second day at the clinic, Walters showed her some images from a CT scan and slipped his hand under her scrub top and into her bra, cupping her breast. Walters then started talking about the pelvic area, touched her hip, then slipped his hand down her pants and inside her underwear.
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.
On 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.
She said she talked to an employee at her school after Walters groped her the second time, and that person called police.
According to the prosecution, 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.
Soda said during the trial 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. ``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.
The state medical board's website indicated Walters' license was current and no criminal convictions were listed. A judge ruled in July that Walters couldn't practice on female patients without a female chaperone present.