Winnipegger grateful after more women accuse unlicensed osteopath of sexual assaults

Winnipegger grateful after more women accuse unlicensed osteopath of sexual assaults

A Winnipeg woman said she is proud of two women who went to the police with sexual assault allegations against an unlicensed osteopathic therapist.

Jim Norris was arrested on March 8 and charged with two counts of sexual assault. Both complainants were former clients of Norris, police said.

In total, four women have now come forward with allegations of inappropriate touching during treatments.

A woman we're calling Jane first spoke with CBC in January about her experience with Norris.

"I am so grateful for the women who have come forward," said the 47-year-old. "I can remember before pressing charges how scared I was and feeling vulnerable, almost stupid."

Jane started treatment with Norris in 2013 for lower back pain and migraines. He was treating her as a osteopathic manual practitioner student.

Norris was also a licensed athletic therapist with an impressive resume, including work with the CFL, Team Canada volleyball and the University of Manitoba Bisons Athletic Therapy Centre.

She said at first she was wearing just her underwear during treatments. She said after a few sessions, she was naked, and she alleges he inappropriately touched her genitals without consent.

"I felt like I was keeping a dirty secret before. I felt like in my core, I knew I couldn't have been the only person," she said. 

Jane went to police in October after getting treatment from another osteopathic manual practitioner student and realized the methods were very different.

"It took me some time to make peace with knowing I hadn't done anything wrong," she said.

Norris was previously charged with sexual assault in June when a 25-year-old woman went to police about an alleged assault in April.

According to the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association, Norris stopped practising athletic therapy at the end of 2015 and gave up his licence in March 2016. He had not completed his training to be an osteopathic manual practitioner and was treating the first victim without any licence to practice.

Jane said she started feeling stronger after speaking out about her alleged assault.

"I still want to really encourage any woman who has received any services from Jim Norris, either where they feel they had been inappropriately touched by him during paid or unpaid sessions," she said. "I really hope they find their voice and stand their ground and contact the Winnipeg police sex crimes unit."

Norris was released on a promise to appear in court on the two latest charges.

He is due in court in April in connection with Jane's allegations. 

In an email, his lawyer Josh Weinstein noted that Norris is presumed innocent. 

"Whether charged with one offence or 20 offences, an accused is always presumed innocent and the burden of proof never shifts away from the Crown's obligation to prove the charges. We will await disclosure and then proceed through the system, advancing a vigorous defence on behalf of our client," Weinstein wrote.