A Santa Rosa orthopedic surgeon has been convicted of all counts involving sexting and attempting to meet a 13-year-old Novato girl for sex.
Dr Raymond Severt, 54, faces about seven years in prison when sentenced, due next month in Marin County Superior Court.
After the verdict was read on Thursday afternoon, Severt was remanded into custody and taken to jail, where he is being held without bail.
Severt, a well-known orthopedic surgeon from Sonoma County, met the girl in February 2013 on an adults-only chat line.
Severt’s medical license has been suspended pending the outcome of the criminal case.
The girl’s profile indicated her as 19 or 24, Severt’s lawyer Stephen Turer said. Severt and the girl communicated via text message for two days, during which the girl changed her age to 17 and then 15.
But Severt believed it was all just an act, Turer said. He said his client believed from the start that the girl was really an adult who “played a game” than she was younger.
The girl testified during the week-long trial that she was trying to “prank” an adult into believing she was a woman.
But Turer said jurors did not take this into consideration. Once she said she was under 18, Severt had a responsibility to end the conversation, jurors told lawyers afterwards, Turer said.
“Since they weren’t at all familiar with that kind of adult chat line, they all used their own personal criteria: ‘I would have hung up when she said she was 17’? ‘ Turer said. “But it’s not your personal standard, it’s a person’s standard in an adult cat.”
He said jurors did not take into account the context of the adult chat scene, where role-playing and simulations are common.
But prosecutors argued that the evidence points to the contrary. They read to jurors several pages of cell phone tapes in which the young girl appeared not to understand the anatomical references or sexual acts described by Severt.
In over 100 posts, Severt has repeatedly said that he likes younger girls and at one point asked the girl what grade she is in.
In a message, after the girl said she was 15, Severt told her to erase their conversation from her phone so her mother wouldn’t see her.
“Why would you care if you were talking to an adult?” Prosecutor Nicole Pantaleo asked jurors during the trial. “Because she was told she was not an adult.”
Eventually, the girl’s mother became suspicious and confiscated her daughter’s phone, where she found the messages. She continued to text Severt, posing as her daughter and telling him that she was really 13 years old. She reported the activity to the police.
Impersonating the girl, a police detective texted Severt to meet at a 7-Eleven in Novato. The police arrested him when he arrived.
The jury found Severt guilty of attempting obscene acts on a child, contacting a child for obscene acts, meeting with a child for obscene acts, annoying a child and distributing obscene material of ‘a minor for a photo that Severt convinced the girl to send.