Edmonton

Edmonton chiropractor pleads guilty to sexually assaulting six patients

Chiropractor Ronald Latch, 67 has pleaded guilty to six counts of sexually assaulting female patients between 1981 and 1989. He will be sentenced in June.

Ronald Latch victimized girls and women between 1981 and 1990

Edmonton chiropractor Ronald Latch has pleaded guilty to six counts of sexual assault that occurred between 1981 and 1990. (Edmonton Police Service)

An Edmonton chiropractor who is no longer licensed to practice has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting six female patients between 1981 and 1990. 

Ronald Latch, 67, admits he preyed on girls as young as 11, two pre-teen sisters, a woman in her early 20s and a woman who had recently separated from her abusive husband. The victims' identities are protected by a court-ordered publication ban. 

One victim described Latch as a sexual predator. 

"He was very calculated," C.S. told CBC News outside the courthouse following the guilty pleas. 

"He was a groomer and he used every tool he could. I didn't even at first realize I was being assaulted."

According to an agreed statement of facts, C.S. had multiple appointments with Latch in 1989 and 1990 when she was in her early 20s. Several times, the chiropractor touched her breasts, placed his hands under her underwear and asked her to remove her underwear. Once he blew on her nipples.

"At one point, [she] could feel his erect penis hit her shoulder," the court document said. 

"If your inner gut is telling you that whatever a professional is doing is wrong, it is more than likely dead wrong," C.S. said. "I tried to push it out of my memory for a very long time."

She reported the assaults to Edmonton police in 2019 after EPS issued a news release about a historical sex assault charge laid against Latch. Investigators at the time said they believed there could have been other complainants and encouraged them to come forward. 

"In 2019, I could not suppress my feelings," C.S. said, "because I'd been shocked that he'd been practising for 20 years and he had the ability to abuse many women."

In August 2019, the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors placed conditions on Latch's practice permit. The college stipulated that he could only see female patients with a chaperone present. 

According to a news release issued Monday by the college, Latch was no longer a regulated member as of October 31, 2019 and cannot practice in Alberta. The governing body said it co-operated fully with the police investigation and will now proceed to a professional disciplinary hearing against Latch.

More victims came forward

More women came forward to complain and more sex-related charges were laid against Latch. But not all of the charges resulted in guilty pleas, and on Monday the Crown stayed five charges.

According to the agreed statement of facts, four of the victims had a vibrating tool placed on their genitals. 

One of the youngest victims said Latch told her she needed to relax before he used the vibrating tool on her legs then moved it up to her vagina. 

"[She] said this happened approximately eight to 10 times until she insisted to her mother that she would not go back," the court document said. 

The girl's sister was also a victim. 

"The accused offered a discount to her mother and/or to do her and her sister for free as they were on social assistance at that time and did not have health coverage," according to the agreed statement of facts.

Despite the guilty pleas, the court allowed Latch to remain free on bail with conditions. A pre-sentence report has been ordered and Latch is scheduled to return to court on June 2 for sentencing. 

C.S. said she hopes he's sent to prison. 

"He will probably not get the sentence that ... victims would like," she said. "But any single day in a prison system is better than him being on the streets here."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston

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