Ex-Munising chiropractor guilty of 7 CSC counts
MUNISING – A former Munising chiropractor was convicted Thursday of seven of the eight criminal sexual conduct charges against him.
George Conrad-Spencer Young, 54, was convicted in Alger County Circuit Court of seven counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, using force or coercion, after a little more than four hours of jury deliberations. The charges against Young stem from incidents that occurred when he worked as a chiropractor at HealthQuest.
Attorney Brandon Rickard began and ended Young’s defense Thursday calling only two witnesses, one of whom was a Munising City Police Department officer and the other was Young.
A discussion took place between Rickard, Alger County Prosecuting Attorney Karen Bahrman and Judge William Carmody about exactly what Young could say in his testimony, as he had been identified to the jury as a formerly licensed chiropractor, yet was not qualified as an expert witness. Carmody set the parameters of Young’s testimony, limiting him only to demonstrating or describing in lay terms what he said he did during his victims’ chiropractic sessions.
Rickard, with the assistance of Young’s friend Steven Adamson, asked Young to demonstrate on Adamson what chiropractic techniques he claimed he had done to each of the victims. He stressed that he only touched the women with the sides and heels of his hands, and that all of the techniques were what he’d been taught at chiropractic school.
Bahrman asked Young whether one of the victims had told him that she had previously been sexually abused. Young said she hadn’t.
“You liar!” one of the women in the audience said. Several of the women in the courtroom were weeping. Carmody said that while he understood that this was difficult, he needed to ask the audience to refrain from speaking or making gestures during the proceedings. One of the women then left the courtroom and could be heard crying in the hallway.
“Let’s move on to” one of the other victims, Bahrman said.
“Go for it,” Young said.
Young did not deny that he pulled down one victim’s pants, had her apply Biofreeze Pain Reliever to her buttocks “to add lubrication,” he said, then used his elbow to massage the area. He said the woman had complained of lower back pain.
There were also a range of allegations that Young made inappropriate comments to women, both patients and coworkers at HealthQuest.
“You make me feel like Chester the Molester,” was one such comment.
Young did not deny making any of the comments, but said he didn’t remember making them.
Are you saying that the victim is lying? Bahrman asked.
“No,” Young said. “I don’t remember having stated that.”
At one point, Young said he didn’t remember making a comment to one of the women, but said he doesn’t think he’d say something like that.
“I’d try to make it sound a lot funnier,” he said.
Bahrman revealed that HealthQuest had also shut off the Internet to Young’s office computer because it was discovered that he was looking at pornography at work, though Young said it was after office hours.
Young said that he was a sex addict, but “that never spilled over into my profession,” he said. “My profession is sacred.”
Young said he did not have concerns treating women because he was able to “compartmentalize” that aspect of his life.
At one point during the cross-examination, Young revealed that Bahrman had also at one time been a patient of his.
“You just couldn’t wait to get that in there, could you?” Bahrman said.
Later, Bahrman pointed out that the only reason Young could discuss the women he’d worked on was because they had signed releases. Bahrman said that she had signed no such release, and as such Young had violated ethical standards in revealing she had been a patient.
“That was improper,” Young said.
Bahrman also questioned a lie that Young allegedly made to a coworker when asked why one woman left HealthQuest’s employment. The woman left her job after Young had “grabbed her, stuck his tongue in her mouth and said he could make her come nine times,” according to Bahrman.
Young pleaded guilty to an assault and battery charge for this incident last December, and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.
Young said he lied “to avoid anyone seeing me as the jackass that I was,” and nearly teared up over his dishonesty to the coworker, whom he repeatedly praised as an employee.
In her closing argument, Bahrman said that Young cloaked his sexual purposes in an “indicia of legitimacy” of chiropractic medicine, telling women who reported no rib pain that he needed to make adjustments that would require that they remove their shirt and bra.
She said Young misjudged one of the victims, whom she said he took to be “meek and unassertive,” but who turned out to be a “Mama Grizzly.”
“He manipulated as many women as he could to unknowingly participate in his sex life,” Bahrman told the jury.
In Rickard’s closing arguments, he said that while Young had made some bad decisions – looking at pornography, making inappropriate comments to his female coworkers – those things weren’t illegal.
“Dr. Young’s behavior may have been a little unprofessional,” Rickard said, adding it wasn’t against the law.
He said these things were “collateral matters” made to distract the jury and make Young look like “a pervert.”
He suggested the fact that several of the victims all used the word “uncomfortable” in describing their experiences with Young was evidence of collusion or “coaching.” He stressed that the contact was incidental and inadvertent, not sexual in nature, and claimed that the HealthQuest ad was a motive for the victims to come forward.
A HealthQuest ad run in The Munising News early this year apologized to patients after the December assault and battery incident.
Rickard called Young a “bad joke teller” and repeatedly said he had poor taste, but repeated the refrain that those things were “not a crime.”
He said reasonable doubt was everywhere.
Young is scheduled to be sentenced at 10 a.m. Dec. 16 in Alger County Circuit Court.
Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401.