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Civil trial begins for Pasco doctor accused of groping

Dr. Gunwant Dhaliwal, left, reviews a file in New Port Richey on Tuesday beside his lawyer Morris Purcell. A criminal trial is set for Oct. 3.

BRENDAN FITTERER | Times

Dr. Gunwant Dhaliwal, left, reviews a file in New Port Richey on Tuesday beside his lawyer Morris Purcell. A criminal trial is set for Oct. 3.

NEW PORT RICHEY — Dr. Gunwant Dhaliwal, convicted in May of groping a patient at his walk-in clinic, is facing a civil jury this week.

A woman who was going to work for Dhaliwal in 2007 accused him in a lawsuit of fondling her breasts as he demonstrated a facial skin procedure on her.

Danielle Turner was a physician's assistant recently hired by Dhaliwal. She hadn't started work yet because she was still under contract at another job.

She went to his Gulf View Walk-in Clinic, her lawsuit says, to learn how to perform microdermabrasion.

Dhaliwal, who owns clinics in New Port Richey and Spring Hill, took the stand Tuesday and said he and Turner only talked in the lobby the day she says he grabbed her. They discussed when she could start, and then she left.

"You never improperly touched Ms. Turner?" his attorney, Morris Purcell, asked.

"No," said Dhaliwal, who is married with two children.

He hadn't done microdermabrasion on a patient since 2000 or 2001. The machine, he said, had not even been turned on since then.

Dhaliwal, 50, also faces a criminal charge of misdemeanor battery against Turner. That trial is set for Oct. 3.

Marissa White also accused Dhaliwal of grabbing her during an examination at his office in May 2007. She went to the clinic after she was in a car accident and had pain in her left side. White said Dhaliwal pushed her back on the exam table, lifted her shirt and grabbed her breasts. A jury convicted him in May of battery and he was sentenced to 10 days in jail. Dhaliwal is appealing the conviction.

White also has a civil case against him.

He has been accused by a half-dozen other women of inappropriately touching them. Some came forward after the first allegations came to light, and the statute of limitations had run out.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or on Twitter at @mollymoorhead.

Civil trial begins for Pasco doctor accused of groping 09/20/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 9:02pm]
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