Chiropractor’s sex-crimes case to see judge decide
UPDATE, March 1, 2022: Parker's sentencing date has moved to April 1.
SNOHOMISH — Accused chiropractor Dr. Ken Parker has sought a bench trial to have his sexual misconduct case decided by a judge instead of a jury.
This path was one of several stipulation items written into a settlement agreement accepted by Judge Karen Moore at a Jan. 6 plea hearing.
The agreement, made mutually between the prosecution and defense, also reduces how many criminal counts he’s charged with from eight to four. The reduction “consolidates” some cases, explained deputy prosecuting attorney Michelle Rutherford.
Opting for a bench trial shuts out putting witnesses on a stand in the proceedings and puts the decision entirely on documented evidence. It also waives Parker’s right to appeal if found guilty.
Parker was arrested last year on charges of taking indecent liberties with patients at his clinic at Second Street and Avenue C, where he was arrested in April 2021.
Parker is quoted through a declaration in the agreement that he does not believe he is guilty, but admits he did touch patients in a way which could be defined as a sexual nature. The declaration was paraphrased for the courtroom audience; the Tribune does not have an exact copy of the settlement agreement as filed.
“Do you understand it is highly likely a court will find you guilty?” Moore asked him procedurally before approving the bench trial request. Parker replied, “yes.”
The agreement orders that a pre-sentence investigation report about Parker is produced. Typically these reports are used, for one, to distinguish fair sentencing lengths for the accused.
Parker’s sentencing hearing is now scheduled for April 1.
Snohomish Police detectives investigated complaints of sexual touching from Parker’s female clients while being treated. Reportedly, there are now more than 20 females who have come forward.
In victim reports, female patients told police Parker groped or pressed on their breasts but did not feel this was necessary for medical treatment. Some complained Parker had them change into robes without providing any privacy.
He allegedly told one woman that his techniques for adjusting the body required contact with her breasts; he had her do “push ups” with her breast going into his open hand, according to the report.
Separately, two civil tort lawsuits suing both Parker and the chiropractic clinic were filed about Parker touching patients. One is from a female who alleges Parker touched and exposed her breasts while she was an underage teenage patient.
Those civil lawsuits are being suspended in limbo under what’s called a “stay order” until the criminal case finishes.
A few months before his arrest, the state Department of Health had suspended Parker’s medical license for nine months
as an agreed order for complaints from three patients he treated between 2016 and 2018 who accused him of sexual misconduct involving their breasts, a December 2019 decision from a state chiropractor commission says.
County prosecutors and Parker’s defense attorney Brad Meryhew mutually arranged the stipulated settlement agreement.
In layman’s terms, a settlement agreement is similar to arranging a plea deal, but is not the same.
If found guilty of four counts of taking indecent liberties, Parker would face a maximum of 48 months of incarceration. He went into jail in late April 2021, and has already served about seven months.
In May 2021, Parker pleaded not guilty at his arraignment.
The chiropractor is not admitting fault by pursuing a bench trial, attorneys said.
The settlement was adjusted before being handed in to Moore’s law clerk Thursday, Jan. 6. The Tribune did not have a copy of the final, marked-up version by press time Monday, Jan. 10.
Rutherford deferred to the case’s primary prosecutor, Bob Langbehn, on discussing how the settlement developed. Parker’s attorney declined comment to the Tribune.
A jury trial was scheduled for Jan. 28 until the change to a bench trial occurred Jan. 6.
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