Vernon physiotherapist guilty of sexual assault won't do jail time | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon physiotherapist guilty of sexual assault won't do jail time

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Vernon physiotherapist Stephen Witvoet will not do jail time after pleading guilty to nine charges of sexually assaulting female patients while they were undergoing treatment by him.

Instead, Witvoet will serve an 18-month conditional sentence whereby he will under 24-hour house arrest for six months, followed by a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew for the remaining 12-months of the sentence.

At the Vernon courthouse, July 8, B.C. Provincial Court Judge Jeremy Guild also placed Witvoet on a 24-month probation order and ordered him to submit a DNA sample. The former physiotherapist has also been placed on the national sex offenders registry for life.

Witvoet, who owned Thrive Physiotherapy and Sport Injury Clinic was charged with two counts of sexual assault in December 2017. He originally pleaded not guilty to the charges but changed his plea after media reporting of the case brought forward more victims. By August 2019, Witvoet was facing 16 charges of sexual assault for incidents that dated back to June 2009. All of the charges involved female victims and the assaults took place during treatment.

In October 2019, Witvoet pleaded guilty to nine charges of sexual assault. The majority of the complaints from the victims aged between 18 and 53 years old were similar – the physiotherapist would massage patients during treatment and then place his hands under their bras and rub their breasts. In two cases Witvoet placed his hand under the underwear of two separate victims and touched them on the vagina.

Crown lawyer Juan O'Quinn and defence lawyer Glenn Verdurmen submitted a joint submission at the time requesting an 18-month conditional sentence served at home, with a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. On two occasions Judge Guild requested further submissions of case law from the lawyers to justify why Witvoet should serve his sentence in the community.

One victim previously told she felt "dismissed" by the suggestion Witvoet would not do jail time for his crimes.

For more stories about Witvoet go here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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