Prosecutors on Tuesday filed sex crime charges against a Twin Cities plastic surgeon who lost his license to practice after state regulators ruled that he molested several female patients during appointments as far back as 2008.
Christopher Kovanda, 56, of Minneapolis, was charged in Hennepin County District Court with two gross misdemeanor counts of fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct stemming from assaults in 2019 and 2021.
The criminal complaint lists five other patients of Kovanda's who alleged that he molested them during office visits, either in Edina or Minneapolis. Prosecutors said in the complaint they intend to make these women's allegations part of their case against Kovanda in order "to prove [his] common scheme or plan of inappropriately touching women who came to him as patients under the guise of providing medical care."
The Minnesota Board of Medical Practice disclosed in a statement in August that Kovanda was no longer licensed to practice medicine in Minnesota because of "conduct with a patient which is sexual or may reasonably be interpreted by the patient as sexual, or in any verbal behavior which is seductive or sexually demeaning to a patient."
The board, which had suspended his license in March, also levied a civil penalty of $15,360 to cover the costs of the agency's investigation and related board proceedings.
Kovanda's last clinic was located on Excelsior Avenue in Minneapolis, and he previously practiced in Maple Grove, in the 50th & France retail district of Edina as Kovanda Plastic Surgery, and before that as a partner at Midwest Plastic Surgery in the Southdale Medical Building, also in Edina.
The Star Tribune left a message Tuesday for one of Kovanda's attorneys, Nicole Brand, seeking a response to the charges.
Previously, Brand has said that "we maintain that the allegations are not true, and Dr. Kovanda is evaluating options regarding this decision."
Attorney Jeff Montpetit represents one of Kovanda's accusers, who reached a confidential settlement with Kovanda and who is not the basis for Tuesday's charges.
"I am pleased to see that Dr. Kovanda was charged criminally and that the physician-patient relationship will not act as a shield," Montpetit said. "I also applaud the victims for coming forward, not being ashamed or indifferent. Their stories will inspire other victims of sexual assault."
According to Tuesday's charges:
A woman told the medical board that in November 2019 Kovanda pressed his groin against her feet while her legs were raised, then ordered the nurse to leave the examination room in Edina before he pushed his groin against her underwear.
A second woman went to Minneapolis police and said Kovanda brought her to a room in Abbott Northwestern Hospital in January 2021, directed her to take off all her clothes and ran his hands up her body and said, " 'Ooh, you're going to be perfect.' "
In a follow-up visit in June 2021, the woman alleged, Kovanda was aroused as he ran his groin along her bare buttocks. She also said he acted sexually aggressive toward her in follow-up visits as well.