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Witness tells court of alleged touching by physiotherapist

A former patient of sexual-assault suspect Campbell Crichton told Duncan Supreme Court Friday how the local physiotherapist allegedly touched her vaginal area during one treatment visit.

Morning testimony in the continuing trial involved Judge Keith Bracken, and Crown and defense lawyers, hearing clinic layout and billing details from a former Cowichan Physiotherapy employee.

Those facts ushered afternoon testimony from the adult female witness who told how Crichton allegedly touched her vagina during treatment in 2009.

The case's court-ordered publication ban prevents reporting any details about any witness' identity.

Friday's witness earlier described her experiences to the RCMP in a video-taped session, and she has sworn her statements as true in an affidavit.

She told Bracken, Crown lawyers Leah Fontaine and Peter Benning, plus defense counsel Michelle Daneliuk, of her experiences under Crichton's care for hand and knee injuries suffered in 2009.

Her WorkSafeBC claim saw the witness referred to physio by her doctor.

During initial visits, among some 15 with Crichton, the witness said she received ultra-sonic treatments for her knee.

She also did exercise at the clinic, and got core-strengthening exercises to do at home.

"I found he was quite pleasant at the beginning," she said, noting Crichton was distant during other visits.

Examination in cubicles saw the curtain closed, or partly open.

The patient explained she was getting pain relief from Crichton's therapy.

He also seemed sympathetic to rough patches in her personal life as the two talked.

But she claimed Crichton also began touching her inappropriately, patting and rubbing her leg or knee.

"I thought 'This isn't right.'"

One time, she said, he rubbed her ankle and lower leg.

"I was kind of nervous. I laughed it off because I'm not good with confrontation," she said under Crown Fontaine's questioning.

Another incident, she said, saw Crichton sympathetic after hearing she was having a particularly bad day.

The witness said she was laying in a cubicle when Crichton put his hand on her right upper leg, close to her groin area, and rubbed it back and forth.

Fontaine asked her if such rubbing was part of agreed treatments; the witness answered 'No.'

Crichton also hugged her, then nuzzled his head into the left side of her neck, she said.

"That really surprised me. I was quite confused ... it didn't sit well with me. I didn't know if it was intentional."

A third questionable incident heard her describe how she was laying on a treatment bed as Crichton rubbed her leg.

"His hand went up to my vagina area, and he held his hand to my vagina for about five seconds.

"I was shocked. I laughed it off, but I never went back."

Touching her vaginal or groin area was also not a discussed part of her treatment, she said.

Daneliuk then began her questioning.

She related how the witness filed her complaint, about inappropriate touching, with the Mounties in March 2011.

The witness later contacted Crown counsel Brad Tomlin, viewed her video testimony, and swore its accuracy in the affidavit.

The witness agreed with Daneliuk that Crichton initially touched her on the shoulder as a greeting, in a friendly, professional manner.

The witness agreed she is a friendly, outgoing person.

She also agreed she did not ask Crichton to take his hand away when he rubbed her lower leg in sympathy of her personal problems.

WCB agents recommended she continue physio, explained the witness.

She also wondered if she'd overreacted to Crichton's hand placements.

But when the witness told her doctor she was uncomfortable with Crichton's alleged vaginal touching, the physician recommended she return to Crichton for treatments, she told the court.

The witness said she read articles — in a local newspaper — about Crichton's alleged actions, and said those stories urged other patients to report their complaints about him to police.

"It was very difficult for me to come forward," she said, noting she told the RCMP it was possible Crichton wasn't aware of his inappropriate actions.

Crichton's 30-day trial involves 22 charges of alleged sexual assault against clients.

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