A Hamilton woman who alleges she was sexually assaulted by her chiropractor and then forced to see him and his friends for months at the bar where she worked says she’s relieved that the allegations are being taken seriously two years after she first came forward.
The woman, who asked not to be identified, says she’s encouraged that the College of Chiropractors of Ontario has decided to bring Dr. Scott Huehn before a disciplinary committee on allegations of professional misconduct.
The allegations have not been proven and a hearing has yet to be scheduled. The college declined to comment, citing confidentiality.
One of Huehn’s lawyers said her client agrees the allegations are serious. “Having said that, he is confident that when this matter is heard and evidence is presented, the allegations will be found to be false,” Samantha Kompa said in an email.
News of the college’s decision came as the woman prepares to move forward with a human rights complaint against the chiropractor and her former employer, who she alleges failed to ensure a safe work environment and to have a clear policy on workplace sexual harassment.
“Initially the police said there wasn’t enough evidence or whatever to prosecute, and then my workplace was completely ignoring me personally, so I had been looking for a sense of affirmation,” she said.
“I lost my job over it too, basically, and there was no consequences to anyone else and no one was listening to me so of course this…was personally encouraging to me.”
Her lawyer, Adam Savaglio, said they filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario as well as the college because the tribunal can order public interest remedies. The parties are meeting for mediation this week before determining whether the case should proceed to a hearing.
The human rights complaint, which The Canadian Press has obtained, seeks $150,000 in damages for loss of dignity and income, a letter of apology and an order that her former employer develop a comprehensive sexual harassment policy.
In the document, the woman says she approached Huehn, a chiropractor and regular customer at the bar, about getting treatment following a car crash in the fall of 2015. It says Huehn agreed to treat her at a reduced rate of $20 per visit.
On the eighth visit, the woman asked Huehn to recommend a massage therapist, but he instead offered to do it himself despite acknowledging that it wasn’t his specialty, the complaint alleges. She agreed because she trusted him, it said.
During the first massage session, the woman says she became uncomfortable when Huehn allegedly rubbed the crease of her groin. After speaking to a friend, she decided to tell him she was seeking massage therapy elsewhere, the complaint says.
At the next session, however, it’s alleged Huehn “reached underneath her with one hand over her pubic bone and vagina while rubbing her buttocks with the other hand,” the document says. He also allegedly commented that “it’s good to have a sexual flow of energy for the best possible adjustment.”
After the alleged incident, the woman experienced depression and anxiety, for which she was diagnosed, as well as shame and low self-esteem.
About a month later, she filed a police report. Huehn was interviewed by police and said any physical contact with her was part of her massage treatment, the document says.
The woman also told her manager what happened but was nonetheless scheduled to work at times when the chiropractor and his friends frequented the bar, she alleges.
She “experienced a pattern of extreme anxiety, embarrassment and humiliation by the continued presence of Dr. Huehn at the pub and was often driven to tears in front of her co-workers, some of whom thought critically of her and that she was not pulling her weight,” the complaint says.
A representative for the woman’s employer, The Augusta House, did not immediately provide a comment.
The woman eventually told one of Huehn’s friends that she would not serve them, which led management to publicly rebuke her, it says. A few weeks later, she resigned, feeling that she could not continue to work in the chiropractor’s presence, the document says.
The woman said she is pushing forward with both complaints in the hopes of sparing someone else from going through the same thing.
“I want to stand up for myself and that’s the most important thing,” she said. “Unfortunately it’s going to happen to someone else in one way or another by both parties if I don’t kind of make them change their ways,” she said.
Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press