Unlicensed osteopathic therapist pleads guilty to 5 counts of sexual assault

A Winnipeg man working as an unlicensed osteopathic manual practitioner has pleaded guilty to five counts of sexual assault.

Sexual assault allegations against Jim Norris date back five years

Jim Norris was sentenced to two years less a day for five sexual assaults and taken directly into custody after his hearing on Tuesday. (QMI Agency)

A Winnipeg man who was not qualified to work as an osteopathic manual practitioner has pleaded guilty to five counts of sexual assault.

The allegations against Jim Norris were made by former clients, who saw him for both athletic therapy and osteopathic treatment.

Norris was studying to be an osteopathic manual practitioner when offering the services. 

The first sexual assault charge was laid in June 2016 when a 25-year-old woman went to police reporting she had been sexually assaulted during treatments in April 2016.

Norris was not licensed to offer any services at that time. The Canadian Athletic Therapists Association confirmed that Norris stopped practising athletic therapy at the end of 2015 and gave up his licence in March 2016.

The Canadian College of Osteopathy formally suspended Norris after the first charge was laid.

"I'm glad that Mr Norris is accepting responsibility for his actions," said Tara Drew, who is the college's director of education.

A second woman went to police in October 2016 making allegations dating back to 2013. She spoke to CBC in January alleging that Norris asked her to be naked during treatments, even pulling her underwear off during one session.

The 47-year-old woman, who we called Jane, said she was sexually assaulted during her sixth or seventh treatment while getting a massage. She alleges he massaged her thighs, touched her genitals and asked if he could stimulate her. She said when the treatment was over Norris was naked and aroused.
This 47-year-old women alleges she was sexually assaulted while receiving osteopathic treatment from Jim Norris. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

"I feel so good to know that Jim has admitted his guilt," said Jane on Thursday. "I believe it is true validation for myself and for the other people who came forward."

She said she only went to police after visiting another therapist studying to be osteopathic manual practitioner and realized she could be fully clothed during treatment.

"It's very scary as a victim to come forward and say that a person who has more power than me has done things inappropriately," said Jane. "I now stand so much taller, I stand my ground and I share about what happened in my therapy sessions."

Two more victims, a 34-year-old woman and 56-year-old woman, went to police after Jane publicly shared her story.

Police said these assaults happened in 2012 and 2014, while receiving treatment from Norris. The women claimed they were inappropriately touched and sexually assaulted, according to police. 

Sentencing in the case will be set at the end of January 2018. The crown expects there will be a number of victim impact statements provided.

A Winnipeg man who was not qualified to work as an osteopathic manual practitioner has pleaded guilty to five counts of sexual assault. 1:35

About the Author

Jillian Taylor

CBC Reporter

Jillian Taylor has been with CBC Manitoba since 2012 and has been reporting for a decade. She was born and raised in Manitoba and is a member of the Fisher River Cree Nation. In 2014, she was awarded the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association's travel bursary, which took her to Australia to work with Indigenous journalists. Find her on Twitter: @JillianLTaylor