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Santa Rosa surgeon waives right to preliminary hearing in teen sex case

SAN RAFAEL — A Santa Rosa surgeon accused of arranging a sexual encounter with a 13-year-old Marin County girl he met online waived his right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday, paving the way for his criminal case to proceed to trial.

Orthopedic hand specialist Raymond Severt, 53, is charged with attempted child molestation and three other felonies stemming from his Feb. 11 arrest, when police intercepted him en route to the would-be rendezvous point.

Severt has pleaded not guilty.

But his attorney, L. Stephen Turer, conceded outside court Wednesday that the prosecution, using police testimony, would have presented sufficient evidence to meet the "reasonable suspicion" threshhold that would permit a judge to send the case to trial, where the higher standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt would apply.

Turer said the reason he advised Severt to waive the preliminary hearing was because the defense had nothing to gain from a recounting of what's in the police report without an opportunity to question the alleged victim about the full extent of her communication with Severt and to test her credibility.

But the waiver of a preliminary hearing is rare enough that Judge Kelly Vieira Simmons said it was not immediately clear what time factors would apply.

Severt was forced to sever ties with his medical practice, Santa Rosa Orthopaedics, after his medical license was suspended because of the pending criminal case. But he has a new Facebook page and web site touting his abilities as a hand surgeon. The Internet site included a phone number connecting to his former practice until it was removed Wednesday afternoon.

Lorelai Debenedetti, administrator for Santa Rosa Orthopaedics, said Severt had no continuing association with the practice.

She said its members had been unaware of his continued use of a practice phone number.

He is to return to court Sept. 26 for arraignment in Superior Court in advance of setting of a trial date.

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