A Santa Rosa orthopedic surgeon has been convicted on all counts involving sexting with and trying to meet a 13-year-old Novato girl for sex.
Dr. Raymond Severt, 54, faces about seven years in prison at his sentencing, scheduled for next month in Marin County Superior Court.
After the verdict was read Thursday afternoon, Severt was remanded into custody and taken to jail, where he is being held without bail.
Severt, a well-known orthopedic surgeon in Sonoma County, met the girl in February 2013 on an adults-only chat line.
Severt’s medical license was suspended pending the outcome of the criminal case.
The girl’s profile listed her as 19 or 24, said Severt’s attorney, Stephen Turer . Severt and the girl communicated by text message over two days, during which the girl changed her age to 17 and then 15.
But Severt believed it was all an act, Turer said. He said his client believed all along the girl was really an adult who was “playing a game” that she was younger.
The girl testified at the weeklong trial that she was trying to “prank” an adult into thinking she was a woman.
But Turer said jurors didn’t take that into consideration. Once she said she was under 18, Severt had the responsibility to end the conversation, jurors told attorneys afterward, Turer said.
“Since they were not familiar at all with these kinds of adult chat lines, they all used their own personal standard: ‘I would have hung up when she said she was 17,’ ” Turer said. “But it’s not your personal standard, it’s the standard of a person in an adult chat.”
He said jurors didn’t take into account the context of the adult chat scene, where role-playing and pretending are common.
But prosecutors argued the evidence showed otherwise. They read jurors several pages of cellphone records in which the girl seemed to not understand anatomical references or sex acts Severt described.
In the more than 100 messages, Severt said repeatedly that he liked younger girls and at one point asked the girl what grade she was in.
In one message, after the girl said she was 15, Severt told her to erase their conversation from her phone so her mother wouldn’t see it.
“Why would you care about that if you’re talking to an adult?” prosecutor Nicole Pantaleo asked jurors during the trial. “Because he’s been told she wasn’t 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, pretending to be her daughter and telling him she was really 13. She reported the activity to police.
Posing as the girl, a police detective texted Severt to meet at a 7-Eleven in Novato. Police arrested him when he arrived.
The jury convicted Severt of attempted lewd acts on a child, contacting a child for lewd acts, meeting a child for lewd acts, annoying a child and distributing lewd material of a minor for a photo Severt convinced the girl to send.