A motion for acquittal was denied Wednesday on the third day of trial for a former Emporia chiropractor charged with sex crimes against three female patients.
Eric Hawkins’ defense team issued the motion regarding charge three, “rape: misrepresenting intercourse as medically necessary.” The alleged incident was said to have involved a female patient who was either 15 or 16 at the time.
Defense Lawyer Christopher M. Joseph took issue with the wording of the charge, saying there was no sufficient evidence or information from the alleged victim’s testimony which could prove Hawkins communicated his touching — accidental or otherwise — of the patient’s genitals was required for treatment.
In testimony Monday afternoon, the alleged victim stated she objected when Hawkin’s thumb was said to have been placed in between her labia, but was ignored. Although she said she could not remember the exact phrasing of the statement, Hawkins supposedly told the patient “something to the effect of, ‘I know what I’m doing.’ or ‘Let me do my job.’”
Lyon County Attorney Amy Aranda argued the alleged victim’s testimony on the matter could be considered valid evidence because the supposed statements had been included in police reports. Judge Merlin Wheeler agreed and denied the defense’s motion.
“The resolution of this motion really hinges on the question of whether there was a misrepresentation by the defendant as to a medically necessary procedure …” Wheeler said. “I will admit the testimony of [victim] was quite variable as to what was communicated between she and the defendant during the course of this particular treatment … However, I have to consider all the evidence and not just solely [the victim’s] statements in this courtroom. I think there is sufficient evidence for the matter to go forth.”
Expert witnesses, including some of Hawkins’ former coworkers and educators, also testified Wednesday. The general consensus among them was that the procedures which led to the alleged incidents were not entirely out of the ordinary on their surface, but that they also could have been better communicated to the patients in question, especially if it was the first time they had been performed. Additionally, the witnesses said there would never be any reason to touch a patient’s genitals during the procedures in question.
“I primarily do it over clothes, with the exception of sometimes when my hand might slip …” said former medical instructor and practicing chiropractor Dr. Garrett Breakiron in reference to a lower spine procedure known as a sacral pump. “If it’s a girl with silky clothing or tight clothing or leggings, I might have to go skin-to-skin. If a guy or gal comes in wearing blue jeans or something similar, probably not … If it’s the first time I would be performing a movement that would venture too near a patient’s sensitive areas, male or female, I would obviously warn them and let them know.”
One area where a coworker’s method differed from Hawkins’ came in the filing of appointment reviews and audits. According to intake staff, it was not unusual for reports to be slightly delayed. Hawkins did not file a followup for a Feb. 15, 2018, appointment during which he allegedly massaged a female victim’s buttocks beneath her clothing without consent until it was sought after by the alleged victim’s father almost two weeks later.
“So, if it was busy and you didn’t have time to write a full report immediately after seeing a patient, when would you go back to finish it?” Aranda asked.
“I’d usually try to get it done by the end of the same day,” said Larris Noble, a former chiropractor at Hawkins’ practice.
Trial is set to resume 9 a.m. today in the Lyon County Courthouse.