Wednesday, April 17, 2013
McKinney chiropractor on trial for allegedly molesting patients
The defendant claims that the allegations are malicious revenge regarding an unrelated business matter.
MCKINNEY The trial for McKinney chiropractor David Russell, who is facing 13 counts of sexual misconduct involving five victims, began Monday with counsel's opening statements and testimony from the first witness.
Russell, 44, owner of Russell Chiropractic in McKinney, was indicted earlier this year for allegedly sexually molesting several patients, including three children and two adults, at his practice. He was arrested three times late last year on the charges, quickly bonding out each time.
Once the jury was selected mid-afternoon Monday, prosecutor Shannon Miller made her initial arguments, saying that Russell's actions were a "betrayal" and "violation of trust."
"We go to doctors because we want them to help us," she told the jurors. "We don't ever expect they'll take advantage of that ... and do things they shouldn't do."
Prosecutors say two girls who attended Taylor Dance Studio expressed to studio instructors their discomfort with how Russell treated them for injuries at his practice. They allege Russell touched their genitals and breasts during treatment.
Prosecutors say Russell also molested another proposed victim who is mentally disabled, and two others who he treated as adults, with alleged misconduct dating back to 2002.
Miller said Russell acted in a pattern "that is not one of being in a doctor-patient relationship but of being a predator."
"There is no procedure for a chiropractor to stick his finger inside a girl," she told the jurors. "At the end of this, you're going to have all the evidence you need."
Russell's attorney, Todd Shapiro, told jurors the prosecution's case is built on "a house of cards" that will "crumble at its foundation" because of its reliance on assumptions and only one eyewitness, who he said didn't support the claims of one victim, her granddaughter.
"David Russell is in the very worst nightmare a man can imagine himself in," Shapiro told jurors. "He has steadfastly denied this from the beginning."
Shapiro said the accusations were rooted in a former dance instructor at the studio who was upset Russell had taken over her classes. That woman, who first brought the accusations to police, quit her job at the studio as Russell and his girlfriend, Susan Taylor, were planning to open a new, $2 million building to house the studio, Shapiro said.
He stressed the alleged victims exhibited their own pattern: coming back to Russell for treatment. One girl returned to Russell 28 times after the visit during which the alleged molestation took place, Shapiro said.
"The door to David Russell's office was always open," Shapiro told jurors, adding that the treatments under question occurred in the middle of the day. "What an odd space to become a predator."
McKinney Detective Techia Davis, lead investigator in the case, was called to the stand first. Answering Miller's questions, Davis said she was first made aware of two victims' outcries in October 2011. She oversaw a forensic interview with one of the victims and then interviewed Russell with another detective, before obtaining the initial warrant for his arrest.
Davis said what alarmed her were Russell's admission that he could have accidentally touched the victim's genitals during treatment and his claim that one victim did not wear underwear to her treatments. Police conducted a search at Russell's office in November 2011, she said, and found the files for two victims separated from the rest.
Prosecutors entered photographs of the building's interior into evidence and exhibited how Russell's operating table could not easily be seen from outside his office.
Shapiro has yet to question Davis at the stand. The trial continues Tuesday morning and is expected to last about two weeks.
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