Todd Gavin, ophthalmologist, convinces jury he had valid reasons to let female patient strip

Gavin was just being thorough when he had a patient lift up her shirt, his attorney successfully argued.
Gavin was just being thorough when he had a patient lift up her shirt, his attorney successfully argued.

What a weird day May 17, 2010 was for Mankato Clinic eye doctor Todd Gavin.

SEE ALSO: Todd Gavin, ophthalmologist, accused of having women get naked during eye exams

According to his version of events, as he was entering information into a computer during one examination, he turned around and saw that his female patient had, for some inexplicable reason, removed her shirt. Adding to the weirdness was the fact the patient had been accompanied to Gavin's office by her mother.

About an hour later he was examining another woman who had shingles. Concerned about the possibility of the them spreading, he says he had her lift her shirt to show him her stomach. Keep in mind he's supposed to be an eye doctor.

The second woman contacted police about Gavin's behavior that same evening; the first waited until August. Gavin ended up being charged with two counts of felony fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of gross misdemeanor fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct, but yesterday, a jury found him not guilty.

With regard to the first patient, Gavin, during his trial, said he "had confusion" and "didn't know what to do" when he turned around and saw that the woman had removed her top, according to a Mankato Free Press report. And with regard to the second, when asked by his attorney whether the shirt-lifting was necessary "to determine if her life was threatened at that time," Gavin replied: "Yes."

Making matters more difficult for Gavin was the fact that he signed a Minnesota Board of Medical Practice reprimand accusing him of engaging "in conduct with [four] female patients [including the two discussed above] that was sexual or could reasonably be interpreted by his patients as sexual."

"I signed the agreement," Gavin said during the trial, but he "didn't agree with the findings."

A Free Press report published yesterday provides details about closing statements and the verdict:

[Gavin] hugged his crying wife as the judge read the sixth "not guilty," then embraced one of his attorneys, Michael McDonald [presumably not this Michael McDonald, although what juror wouldn't be persuaded by his soulful baritone crooning?]. All 12 jurors were asked to call out their verdict, and the four women and eight men confirmed: "not guilty."...

Each of the two women suffered from a "betrayal of trust," Assistant Blue Earth County Attorney Michael Hanson said.

"Both of these young women went to the doctor for issues concerning their eyes and they were taken advantage of," he said.

The defense, though, described a doctor punished for being thorough.

And even if he had wanted to molest a patient, it's implausible he would have chosen these two, McDonald said.

"I'll pick the one whose mom is in the room with me," he said sarcastically.

And the second woman had "shingles that could be connected to AIDS," making her another unlikely target, he said.

For those of you with inadequate health insurance, Gavin's full-service practice is something to keep in mind (though he quit his job at the Mankato Clinic after charges were filed, he now practices in Madelia). Sure, it might be uncomfortable, but how many eye doctors will make sure you're healthy from head, to abdomen, to toe?

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