A former Emporia chiropractor was back in court Tuesday as part of an ongoing sexual abuse case.
Motions were made in the case of Eric Hawkins, who has been accused of aggravated sexual battery and sexual battery against two female patients in separate incidents, and a third charge of “rape: misrepresent intercourse as medically necessary” by a victim who was, according to court documents, was about 15 or 16 years of age at the time of the alleged assault. The trial was presided over by Judge Merlin Wheeler.
The first count alleges Hawkins put his hands beneath the accuser’s pants and underwear and massaged her buttocks without her consent. The second count alleges Hawkins slapped a woman patient on the buttocks without consent.
The third count alleges that Hawkins pulled his accuser’s waistband below her genitals, which she said he had not previously done and penetrated her labia with his fingers.
All of the alleged victims are between the age of about 16 and their early 30s, they’re all women, and all of them had previously received treatment from Hawkins.
Hawkins’ defense filed for a modification of his bond to allow him to travel to the Fort Worth, Texas area to work at his family business, citing an inability to find work locally. The defense asserted a court local to Hawkins could supervise him, if such a request were to be granted.
Hawkins has filed for the modification of bond multiple times and been denied each time. This time was no different. Wheeler denied Hawkins’ request, due to the nature and severity of the charges against him.
Hawkins’ defense also filed a motion to dismiss count three of the charges against him, alleging he had misrepresented sexual intercourse as needed for medical treatment.
The defense said there was no evidence the alleged victim in this case had consented, according to her testimony, which asserted she was uncomfortable and wanted to leave while the alleged incident was taking place.
The plaintiff, however, believes there’s sufficient evidence to prove Hawkins misrepresented intercourse as medically necessary, saying he told the alleged victim she needed to “let (him) do (his) job,” though she told him she was uncomfortable.
The alleged victim remained on the table for the duration of the treatment, the prosecution said, because she was nervous and uncomfortable.
The prosecution argued that consent doesn’t need to be verbally spoken, according to state statute.
The motion to dismiss the charge was denied, with Wheeler saying the matters being discussed were up to the jury to decide.
Hawkins’ defense also motioned to sever the three charges from one another, meaning each would be tried separately. This motion was made because the defense alleged improper joinder, claiming the incidents were too different from one another to be tried together and that there was a risk of prejudice springing from this.
Wheeler warned the defense that this could be a “two-edged sword” for Hawkins, because multiple findings of guilt, if he were convicted, would look worse in terms of Hawkins’ criminal history. Wheeler recessed the hearing to give the defense time to discuss this with Hawkins. However, after returning from the recess, the defense still wanted to proceed with the motion to sever.
The prosecution said there would be a risk of prejudice even if the charges were severed and he was found guilty of one and not another. With severance, further evidence of other offenses could be presented by the prosecution, as well, and could introduce propensity evidence.
Wheeler agreed to sever the second charge — alleging he slapped one of his patients on the buttocks — from the first and third — the charge of aggravated sexual battery and the charge of rape. He said the first and third charges were similar enough in nature to try together.
The prosecution has filed a motion to introduce more witnesses, which Wheeler granted.
A motion was filed the day of the motion hearing by the Plaintiff to reconsider the dismissal of an alternative count three, “rape by force or fear,” which was dismissed at the preliminary hearing. Wheeler said the defense hadn’t had adequate time to prepare a response to the motion and so a hearing will be held for this motion at 8:15 a.m. April 8. at the Lyon County Courthouse.
The defense also motioned for a firm trial setting, due to availability issues with doctors that the defense intends to call as witnesses. The prosecution was not opposed to this.
Hawkins’ trial by jury is set to begin Aug. 19 for counts one and three. The trial for the second count of sexual battery will begin Aug. 26.