By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The patients of Dr. Walter Palmer who spoke with WCCO all described him as an excellent dentist.

But they also expressed shock over the killing of Cecil the lion, as well as the fact that Palmer had a prior felony for poaching a black bear in Wisconsin and a sizable sexual harassment award against him.

Drew Preiner has been going to Palmer’s office since he was a child.

“I’ll probably find a new dentist,” Preiner said.

He says he is stunned by the Cecil killing.

“What he did was bad,” Preiner said. “I’m very surprised. Very, very surprised.”

Preiner says he had no idea that Palmer pleaded guilty in 2008 to poaching a bear in Wisconsin.

Court documents say he lied to federal agents about the incident. He was fined $2,900, was put on probation for a year and had to forfeit his passport for a year.

Palmer settled a sexual harassment claim against him in 2005. A former employee reported that she had been subject to “verbal comments and physical conduct involving her breasts, buttocks and genitalia.”

The employee said Dr. Palmer fired her in retaliation after she reported the conduct to a supervisor.

Palmer paid $127,000, and was required to undergo sexual harassment training and write the employee a letter of recommendation.

Ann Flood is another long-time patient who will be not coming back.

“We have power with our dollar, we have power with our choices, and I hope that people choose not to go to a human being that is so narcissistic,” Flood said.

Preiner agrees, but says he is deeply troubled by the volume and intensity of online threats.

“I think responding in a nasty, demonic, kind of disgusting way just makes us all look worse,” Preiner said.

Palmer wrote an email to patients telling them he thought he was acting legally when he killed Cecil, and he apologizes for the inconvenience of having to shut down his business.

He also said in the letter he hopes to reopen and get back to business as normal as soon as possible.

The outrage over Cecil’s killing has attracted the interest of politicians and celebrities alike.

PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, says Palmer should be “extradited, charged, and, preferably, hanged” for Cecil’s death.

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