A Waikanae osteopath who indecently assaulted a patient is now serving a home detention sentence at the site from which his partner still operates their clinic.
Graham Edward Walker has now retired from his job as an osteopath, court documents show, but is serving his sentence at his Kāpiti home, where the Waikanae Osteopathic Clinic still runs.
Walker was found guilty by a jury on two counts of indecent assault, which happened while Walker was working.
He was treating a patient for persistent back pain in a scheduled appointment in August 2018 when the offending happened, Judge Ian Mill said in his sentencing decision.
"She had consulted you as an osteopath and had had a number of appointments up until this point. As a result of that, you adopted a technique to assist in her recovery. This technique is properly called, I understand, an "inhibition" technique and involved you, as the practitioner, putting your hand on the upper inner thigh of the victim, holding the muscle and then releasing it."
But as Walker carried out the technique, he went "well beyond the parameters", moving his hand to touch the victim's genitals.
"Later, when undertaking shoulder stretches – again, a standard procedure – while she was seated and as you had done on previous appointments, on this occasion you gripped her in the standard way but, when you reached around her from behind, you cupped your hand over her breast."
During the trial Walker denied the touching and continues to deny it, Judge Mill said.
The judge said although there was premeditation of the offending, he could not expressly say the jury had found Walker guilty of grooming the victim.
"All I can say about premeditation and planning is that having successfully indecently assaulted her in the first way, you shortly after were encouraged, at least in your own mind, to indecently assault her in the second way. That must have required some thought, although briefly."
The most aggravating feature of the offending was that Walker, who was in a position of "some standing and reputation", breached his victim's trust when she was in a vulnerable position.
The judge adopted a starting point for sentence of 18 months in prison, and allowed discounts for lack of previous convictions, and health issues.
With the discounts, the final sentence came down to seven months of home detention.
Walker applied for permanent name suppression, arguing if his name were public his partner would suffer extreme hardship.
Walker's partner said in an affidavit she hoped to continue her practice until the age of 70, and was concerned publication would deter clients.
"Your partner talks about your very good name and reputation in the local community within the profession, and that she would, she is certain, lose many clients," Judge Mill said.
"There is an issue, of course, that she practises from the house, and as home detention has been the sentence I have imposed, it may not be a venue to which people would be willing necessarily to come, even though you would not be practising yourself," he said.
"Inevitably there will be a backlash of some sort, in relation to you in particular, and there may be some flow-on for your partner. It may be that she has to consider, at least in the meantime, operating her practice away from the house."
Judge Mill did not find there would be extreme hardship for Walker and his partner, and declined the application for permanent name suppression.
Waikanae Osteopathic Clinic has been contacted for comment.