Initial testimony began late Monday afternoon in the trial of a former Emporia chiropractor charged with sex crimes against three female patients.
Eric Hawkins was initially arrested in late Aug. 2018 and has since been accused of aggravated sexual battery and sexual battery against two female patients in separate incidents. A third charge of “rape: misrepresenting intercourse as medically necessary” was filed naming the victim to be a female patient who was 15 or 16 years of age at the time of the alleged assault.
After a lengthy jury selection process, Monday’s trial began concerning counts one and three. A separate trail concerning the second count of battery is scheduled to begin next week.
According to court documents obtained by The Gazette, the first count alleges Hawkins put his hands beneath the accuser’s pants and underwear and massaged her buttocks without consent. The third count alleges that Hawkins pulled his teenage accuser’s waistband below her genitals and penetrated her labia with his fingers.
The alleged victim named in count three testified Monday, telling jurors she waited to report the incident — which allegedly occurred in either Oct. or Nov. 2015 — until she saw a news report of another woman coming forward against Hawkins for “inappropriate behavior” in Aug. 2018.
“[The article] kind of validated in my head, it sounds conceited, but that I was right about what happened,” the alleged victim testified. “What he had done wasn’t OK, and it wasn’t something professional to do. In a way, it was almost kind of relieving seeing it and it proved to me that what had happened wasn’t right; but it also kind of brought back that feeling of uncomfortableness.”
Concerning the day of the incident, the alleged victim testified it was one of the few times she had gone to Hawkins’ medical offices without her father. She continued to recall that she was alone with Hawkins while a cold laser treatment was performed on her groin area, something which was unusual as he was often accompanied by other assistants, but not immediately concerning at the time.
“I laid on the treatment table and I pulled down the athletic shorts that I was wearing,” she said. “I pulled down my waistband to the area of my groin where the pain was located. The treatment started just like it usually did, but as a few minutes went along, he kept moving down toward my pubic bone area. Using his hand that he wasn’t holding the device with, he pulled my waistband down further and I kind of started to feel uncomfortable, but I didn’t think anything of it at first.
“As he kept moving the laser down, he used his other hand and managed to put his hand, his thumb, in between my labias and on my clitoris.”
The alleged victim testified the supposed touching lasted about two to three minutes, during which time her objection was ignored. After her treatment had finished, the victim quickly left Hawkins’ office and did not schedule any additional appointments at the time. She attempted to tell her father that Hawkins had touched her in a way that “made her uncomfortable” the following day, but “felt too awkward” to discuss the full nature of the visit.
Hawkins’ defense team also made opening arguments Monday. Lawyer Christopher M. Joseph said he would not argue proper medical protocols were followed completely during the incidents in question, but also said that claims of any criminal, purposeful wrongdoing were exaggerated, inaccurate or the result of “false memory.”
“Doctor Hawkins simply did not do what he is charged with; he did not commit a sex crime,” Joseph said. “After hearing all the evidence in the next couple days, you will be asked to decide on a single question. That single question is whether or not the state has proven beyond any reasonable doubt that Dr. Hawkins committed both these crimes with which he is being charged. If you have any reasonable doubt, you must return a non-guilty verdict.”
Trial is set to resume 9 a.m. Tuesday and is tentatively scheduled to last until Friday.