PROVO — A judge decided Wednesday there is enough evidence to require a Springville fertility specialist accused of improperly touching patients during examinations to stand trial on 19 counts of second-degree felony forcible sex abuse.

At the end of a two-day preliminary hearing, 4th District Court Judge Samuel McVey said prosecutors could proceed with all but three charges that remained against osteopathic physician Larry Glen Andrew.

Andrew is accused in court documents of massaging female patients' genital area during exams, saying it would relieve the pain associated with the in-vitro fertilization process. Such procedures require medical workers to place fertilized eggs back into a woman's uterus.

Prosecutors also allege Andrew had his female medical assistants give him prostate exams.

A separate investigation by Utah's Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing resulted in Andrew's license being suspended for a short time. It was reinstated in February.

Both prosecuting and defense attorneys said the case is about consent and intent. Andrew's attorneys argued during the hearing that Andrews had consent for everything he did and didn't act with sexual intentions.

Defense attorney Ann Taliaferro argued that Andrew's employees willingly performed the prostate exams to increase their skills and knowledge.

"Each of these (women) made a conscious choice," Taliaferro said. "They regretted it after they did it, but it doesn't mean they were forced."

Defense attorneys also said none of the patients said they felt the exams were sexual in nature.

"Did he make any sexual comments, inappropriate comments?" Taliaferro asked one witness about her visit to Andrew's Springville clinic.

"No," the woman replied. The woman also said she wasn't aroused during the exam and didn't have any reason to believe Andrew was either.

Deputy Utah County Attorney Dave Sturgill argued that the women were not familiar with the fertility procedures and didn't know what to expect, but they all testified they felt uncomfortable with the touching.

"They didn't resist because they were unsure," Sturgill said. "It wasn't until later when their minds started to clear that they realized the inappropriateness of this act."

Sturgill also cited Utah Code, which states that consent is never given if the sexual offense happens at the hands of a "health professional" who is allegedly providing treatment.

Dr. Kirtly Jones, a reproductive endocrinologist at the University of Utah, testified Tuesday that rubbing a female's genitals would not relieve pain and might in fact increase a patient's discomfort.

She said in her 29-year career she has only had two or three patients who experienced severe pain during the "trial transfer" before the actual embryo transfer and that most women barely notice the short, 2- or 3-minute procedure. One woman from Salt Lake testified she held her husband's hand the entire time as she tried to get through the "excruciating" procedure in Andrew's office. It was during that 20-minute procedure that she said she felt Andrew began rubbing her genital area.

"I didn't want to believe that Dr. Andrew would purposely hurt me," she said tearfully. "I wanted to believe that there was a reason. But now I understand that a (trial) embryo transfer doesn't need to be like that."