Edmonton chiropractor admits to sexually assaulting six female patients in 1980s

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EDMONTON — A chiropractor has admitted to sexually touching six of his female patients with his hands and a vibrating tool.

Ronald Harry Latch, 67, was facing multiple counts of sexual assault, sexual interference and gross indecency against eight girls and women.

He pleaded guilty Monday to six of the sexual assault counts before Court of Queen's Bench Justice Marta Burns.

An agreed statement of facts submitted as part of his plea said Latch started working as a chiropractor in Edmonton in 1981.

"In December of 2018, the complainant ... reported to police that she had been sexually assaulted by the accused as a child in the 1980s when she had attended his clinic in Edmonton for chiropractic appointments," said the statement.

When Latch was charged in March 2019, police put out a news release asking other potential victims to come forward.

"Charges relating to seven other female patients were laid against the accused," said the statement.

None of the women can be named because sexual assault victims are protected by a publication ban.

In the statement of facts, Latch admitted he sexually assaulted the six patients between 1981 and 1990.

Latch said he touched one of the women's breasts without her consent.

"The accused had his eyes closed and made noises, which (the victim) described as moaning and groaning," said the statement. "After the appointment, (the victim) left and never returned for another appointment."

Latch also admitted he used a vibrating tool between the legs of another patient, who was in her 20s at the time.

The statement said the woman felt embarrassed and humiliated. "She felt horrible afterwards and did not want to believe it had happened."

The statement said the woman, in denial, booked another appointment.

"The exact same thing happened at this subsequent and last appointment."

Four others, including two sisters who were between 10 and 15 at the time, recounted similar experiences during appointments with Latch.

"When (one of the girls) was in Grade 6, sometime in 1986 or 1987, she started developing breasts," said the statement. "He placed a wand between her legs ... for approximately two to three minutes at a time.

He told the girl and her mother that she was "too stiff" in the area.

"He would massage her chest area and put his hands under her bra to massage her breasts."

He again told her it needed to be done, said the statement.

The girl's sister also reported being sexually abused by Latch, which he admitted to in the agreed statement of facts.

She said the sexual assaults "did not start right away and they did not occur when her mother was in the room."

Both girls refused to return to the clinic after similar encounters on multiple visits.

Dr. Frank Stuart Kinsinger, who has a background in chiropractic training and practice, said in testimony submitted on behalf of the Crown that chiropractors do not perform breast exams.

"There is no diagnostic, assessment or therapeutic procedure where the chiropractor places his whole hand or fingers over or on top of any portion of the female breast," he said.

Kinsinger also said there's no procedure where chiropractors would place their hands on patients' genitalia.

Latch's case is to return to court for a pre-sentence report on June 2.

The Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors said in a statement late Monday that it will be proceeding with formal professional discipline against Latch.

It said conditions were placed on his practice permit in August 2019 and he ceased to be a member of the association in October of that year. He cannot practice chiropractic in the province, the statement added.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press