Crime

Ferndale chiropractor charged with sexually touching patients

A Ferndale chiropractor has been charged with three counts of indecent liberties for the alleged sexual touching of two patients.

Last year, Terry Ray Rouse, 55, owner of Rouse Chiropractic Clinic on Vista Drive, arranged to trade services with a massage therapist in Whatcom County.

At a session in spring 2015, the chiropractor placed his fingertips on the woman’s abductor muscles, in the inner thigh, according to charging papers. Then he moved his hands to her genitals, where he sexually touched her for an extended time, she later reported. She told police she “froze, felt dizzy, ashamed, shocked and overwhelmed,” and she left the room crying.

She recalled Rouse telling her: “It was natural.”

She believed it was an isolated incident, the charges say, so she did not report it — until another woman came forward this month. In the meantime, she continued to go to Rouse for treatment. Two other times, she reported, he touched her sexually without consent. She told police she never gave him a reason to think they were in an intimate relationship. The third and final incident was in late May.

On June 8, police were called when a woman in her 30s went to St. Joseph hospital for a sex crime examination. She told officers that when she went to Rouse that day, he asked his secretary to leave the office. Rouse massaged the woman, and moved his fingers to her genitals, the charges state. She, too, felt paralyzed and embarrassed. She left the building out a side door.

“Hey, sorry about that, kid,” Rouse told her as she left, she reported.

The second woman, as it turned out, was also a patient of the massage therapist. At an appointment several days later, the women revealed to each other their experiences with Rouse, according to the charges.

Police spoke with Rouse on June 30. At first he denied that anything inappropriate happened. Later, he said the sexual contact with the massage therapist was consensual. He went on to say he might have accidentally touched the second woman. He recalled apologizing to her.

Rouse surrendered himself to jail July 5, as arranged by police and attorneys. His booking record lists a charge of rape in the second degree. Prosecutors filed official charges late Thursday, July 7, of indecent liberties by a health care provider, a class B felony.

Rouse has no criminal record. He has posted $10,000 bond.

On Friday, a reporter’s call to his office rang unanswered, and a voice mail wasn’t returned.

At a hearing earlier this week his defense attorney, Adrian Madrone, said Rouse is “very aware of the severity and significance of these allegations. He is obviously here and prepared to answer to those allegations.”

Madrone didn’t return calls about the charges Friday.

Rouse has held a license to practice as a chiropractor since 1992, according to state Department of Health records. This week, a state disciplinary board launched an investigation into the case. That investigation will be expedited in light of the severity of the charges, said department spokeswoman Julie Graham.

His license technically remains active. It’s set to expire Sept. 2. Rouse held an EMT license, too, from 1989 to 2007.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb

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