After more than six hours of jury deliberation, a former Emporia chiropractor charged with sex crimes against three female patients was acquitted on two of the three charges Friday afternoon.
Eric Hawkins was found not guilty on a single count of aggravated sexual battery and another of rape stemming from separate incidents said to have occurred in Nov. 2015 and Feb. 2018.
Throughout the proceedings, the defense stressed to members of the jury — which consisted of six men and six women — that they could not convict Hawkins on any charge if they possessed “reasonable doubt.” The term has no set definition in the state of Kansas.
Defense Attorney Christopher M. Joseph thanked the jury for heeding the court’s advice in a phone interview Friday afternoon, saying he believed legitimate questions regarding victim testimonies and timeliness of the accusations resulted in the verdict.
“I think we had a really good jury that spent a lot of time listening very closely to evidence and struggling with what is a no-win situation for everyone,” Joseph said. “They came to the right outcome. They had reasonable doubt. Truly, I don’t think anyone thinks that these young ladies are not telling what they believe happened. I think there was confusion and misunderstanding, and they were understandably upset. Eric [Hawkins] truly was remorseful and almost ruined his life by not being more considerate and taking more time with the patients...
“I don’t think he meant harm. I think he was regretful and truly understands [the accusers’] feelings were genuine, that they were upset and creeped out by what happened and he gets that. I think the verdict was the right outcome; I genuinely do. I don’t think he was trying to sexually molest these girls. I think, if anything, he just was sloppy and didn’t explain what was happening.”
Jury selection for a separate trial concerning a second count of sexual battery is scheduled to begin next week in the Lyon County Courthouse. The count alleges that on March 4 or 5, 2015, Hawkins touched a 32-year-old female patient “with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of the defendant.”