Sunday, April 27, 2008

Chiropractor guilty of groping patients in Montana

Jack Faubion, a 32 year old Gillette, MT chiropractor, was found guilty of 4 out of 5 3rd degree sexual assault charges after a bench trial conducted by Judge John C. Brackley of Sheridan. The verdicts were read shortly after 3PM Thursday in the Campbell County Courthouse. 3rd degree sexual assault is a felony punishable by a maximum of 15 years in a Montana prison.

Across the aisle, the four victims whose allegations were affirmed by the court sat just as silently at the end of what started as an emotional day of testimony for the prosecution’s last witness.A 43-year-old woman accuser cried as she told the courtroom how Faubion groped her breasts during a January 2005 visit to his office for back pain. Asked by Assistant County Attorney Bill Edelman if the Faubion’s touching felt sexual, the woman said yes.

“I thought so at first but after he explained it I thought I was being overly sensitive,” she said, occasionally dabbing her eyes with a tissue from a box next to her on the stand. “It just felt dirty. It didn’t feel medical to me.”

Brackley, who heard the trial after the defense waived its right to a jury, said such emotional testimony and detailed stories of breasts being cupped and massaged helped convince him that four of the women had legitimate claims of assault. A fifth woman, who testified by phone from her out-of-state college, failed to convince Brackley “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“The law makes no distinction on the weight that the court may give to direct or circumstantial evidence,” he said after reading the verdict. “Not having a nurse or attendant in the examining room is suspect in this day and age.”

While defense attorney Nick Carter tried to convince Judge Brackley that the incidents were outside of Faubion's character, an expert witness he hired, Mark Heller, demonstrated that Faubion's massage technique was inappropriate.

The expert, Mark Heller, was brought in by Carter to try and prove that Faubion’s method of putting his hand under women’s shirts and bras to make chiropractic adjustments was accepted in the profession. Heller demonstrated his techniques on the chest of a hanging skeleton and over the clothes of a female attorney working with Carter.

But even after Carter got his expert to say that an underwire bra would get in the way of chiropractic treatment, Edelman pounced on cross-examination and seemed to land fatal blows to the defense’s attempt to layer doubt on the witness’ accounts.Asked whether the victims’ descriptions of having their breasts cupped, massaged or groped was appropriate for chiropractors, Heller said unequivocally no:“The way you’re saying it, no. Obviously nobody would do that,” Heller responded. “We’re not adjusting the breast itself.”

The Board of Chiropractic Examiners licenses nine other chiropractors in Gillette in addition to Faubion, even with the charges, the conviction. Carter said that Faubion has only seen male patients since December 2006.

The three-member board governs the state’s 203 licensed chiropractors. Its rules allow it to “suspend, revoke or deny licenses and take other disciplinary action” for violations including felony convictions; harassing, intimidating or abusing clients or patients; or engaging in sexual contact with a client or patient. “We’ve never had anything that I can really refer to in this regard,” Bridges said. Bridges said she could not reveal whether a formal complaint had been made to the board, pointing out such proceedings are not public record until they’ve been decided.

The Board's next meeting in May 17. Faubion's sentencing date is unknown.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is Gillette, Wyoming not Gillette, Montana...