A Marin County prosecutor urged jurors to convict a 54-year-old surgeon of lewdness charges because his aggressively sexual texts to a Novato girl put his criminal intentions in "black and white."

"It's in writing. It's in English," prosecutor Nicole Pantaleo said in closing arguments Tuesday against Dr. Raymond Severt. "Hold him accountable for what he did."

But Severt's lead attorney, Stephen Turer, insisted the evidence was not as "cut and dried" as the prosecution suggests. Turer said his client got "pranked" while playing a flirtatious game with someone he presumed to be an adult.

"We are in a new age of communications and, you might say, sexuality," Turer said.

Severt, an orthopedic surgeon in Santa Rosa, has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted lewd acts on a minor under 14, contacting a minor for lewd acts, meeting a minor for lewd acts, annoying or molesting a child, and distributing lewd material of a minor. The latter count is for an explicit photo of the girl that Severt allegedly asked for and received.

Severt met the Novato girl last year through a dating website intended for users 18 or older. During the two-day course of their text messages, the girl, who was 13, initially claimed to be 19, then said she was 17, then 15.

In more than 100 text messages, Severt pressed the girl for a tryst, repeatedly making graphic references to sex acts and genitalia.


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"I love high school girls," Severt said in one text shown to the jury. In another, he wrote: "It would be good for you to learn how to make a guy feel good."

The girl's mother, becoming suspicious of the teen's behavior, took the girl's phone and found the stream of texts. She reported it to Novato police.

Posing as the girl, a police detective texted Severt to meet at a 7-Eleven in Novato. Police arrested Severt when he arrived.

Severt reasonably believed he was texting someone over 18 because they met through an adults-only site, his lawyer said in closing arguments Tuesday. Turer said such sites exist to allow adults to engage in flirtation and role playing.

Severt himself represented himself as a 38-year-old in the texts.

The trial is being held before Judge Kelly Simmons in Marin Superior Court. Severt has been free on bail since shortly after his arrest.

Severt has surrendered his medical license during the criminal proceedings.