M.S. was an osteopath with a reputation so sound that he attracted patients from both within and beyond the small town in which his practice was situated.
His trouble began when the police called at his premises in his absence and seized his current and previous appointment books from his practice manager.
They had received a complaint of indecent assault from an airline pilot who had been treated some time previously. There then began a police trawling operation which was reminiscent of the witch-hunts during investigations of children’s care homes in Wales, although all of the complainants in this case were well over the age of consent at the time of the alleged offences.
The behaviour, such as it was, would hardly have been interpreted as indecent as recently as twenty years ago, such was its triviality and indeed, much of the argument in court did not revolve around indecency, but was rather about whether the particular form of massage being undertaken – of the psoas muscle in the groin - was appropriate or necessary for the conditions being treated.
In the end, the police had managed to persuade eleven men (including two GPs and a policeman) – at least one of whom had remained silent for twelve years and others for not much less – to make complaints. The pressure applied by the police can be deduced from the action of one former patient – a doctor – who, when asked “did you want to make this allegation” refused to reply.
He was one of the two doctors now making complaints, both of whom had been referring their own patients to the same osteopath for treatment during the time when they now claimed that they were themselves being indecently assaulted by him!
Between the two of them they had referred some two hundred of their own patients for osteopathic treatment by M.S. and, when asked why they had done this at a time when they claimed they were being abused, they indicated that it was because they knew that their patient would benefit from treatment by the M.S.!
The situation of the psoas muscle in the groin is such that it cannot be massaged without the danger that the practitioner's forearm will brush against the patient's penis and this mainly was what was complained about, as well as the fact that the osteopath had lowered the patient's boxer shorts as this became necessary instead of asking them to do this themselves and that he had wiped massage oil from the patient’s stomach and genitals after the treatment.
Since patients had not complained until long after the treatment, the defence barrister argued that “if the jury believed that M.S. genuinely, albeit mistakenly, thought that the patient consented, then NOT GUILTY would be the proper verdict.”
To this the judge responded that “the jury may come to the conclusion that there was expressed or implied consent.”
The jury, however, came to no such conclusion and the defendant was sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment.