Former Cowichan Valley physiotherapist Campbell Crichton was found guilty on seven counts of sexual assault as Judge Keith Bracken read out his decision on Tuesday morning.
Crichton, who practised in the Valley between 1992 and 2011, faced 22 counts of sexual assault when his trial began in June, but Crown prosecutor Leah Fontaine and defence counsel Michelle Daneliuk had agreed on acquittals for most of the counts due to insufficient evidence.
"I’m pleased with the decision," Fontaine said. "I think it was a hard case. It was very difficult for the women to come forward and go through the process."
Largely similar from complainant to complainant, the charges against Crichton typically involved him rubbing his clothed genitals on patients during treatment, and touching patients inappropriately. The trial was beset by legal issues, largely based on insufficient evidence due to records not being preserved, either by Crichton himself or agencies like the Insurance Corporation of B.C.
When Crichton testified in his own defence, he explained that he had juvenile-onset diabetes that caused heart disease and blood pressure issues, the latter of which led to him take medication for erectile dysfunction, which had caused him to become aroused at inappropriate times. He also explained that he practiced a unique form of physiotherapy known as myotherapy, which includes deep-tissue massaging that can be very painful but very effective.
Bracken acknowledged that the trial was a "credibility case," which required him to weigh the evidence presented by the victims against that of the accused.
One of the victims – who cannot be named because of a publication ban – spoke to media after the verdict on Tuesday, and expressed her relief that Crichton had been found guilty.
She confirmed that her case was among the seven that led to convictions.
"It’s been very, very stressful," she said. "It’s been four years of this, reliving it every day and just hoping they come out with the right verdict."
A date for Crichton’s sentencing will be set on Jan. 5, 2015.