A Fresno chiropractor who touched women patients for his sexual pleasure as they lay face down on a therapy table in their underwear has been sentenced to a year in jail.
Dr. Arthur Hernandez, 49, had pleaded no contest in January to one felony count of sexual battery in which he falsely represented to a patient that the touching served a professional purpose. He also pleaded no contest to six misdemeanors of similar conduct.
Judge Don Penner sentenced Hernandez to one year in jail under a plea deal in which Hernandez avoided state prison.
At least one member of Hernandez’s family burst into tears when the bailiff slapped handcuffs on Hernandez and led him away.
The judge read police reports describing what victims said happened to them. Many had called police after news reports about his arrest in June 2017.
Victims said he would have them strip to their underwear and tell them to lie face down on the table, then he’d massage their legs and buttocks and place his hands between their legs. Some said they heard a zipper being unzipped, then felt him take their hand and place it on his erection, the report said.
Defense attorney Daniel Bacon said Hernandez had no previous criminal record and was eligible for probation instead of prison.
Bacon said his client had worked in the fields and obtained an education. Since his arrest, he has been ostracized, and would now have to register as a sex offender, and have his photo posted on the Internet in the Meghan’s Law database, Bacon said. Hernandez also lost his practice, Bacon said.
Prosecutor Amy Freeman said the victims suffered fear and shame.
“The defendant took advantage of his position in the community,” Freeman said.
Seven letters from victims and family members were read into the record.
Victims said Hernandez told them no one would believe them because they were undocumented. He deserved many years in prison, some said.
“I once lived a very happy and joyous life with much enthusiasm,” one victim wrote. “I used to feel very confident about myself. I suffer depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. I have lost my focus in life and I have a difficult time making simple decisions.”
Another letters states, “My mother is not the same affectionate person she was before.”
Many victims said they won’t go to a doctor, or won’t let a doctor touch them. Some said their intimate relationships with their husbands have suffered.
The judge said the court received 100 letters of support for Hernandez, including many from female patients.
As part of the sentence, Hernandez must register as a sex offender and enroll in a sex offender treatment program, and be on formal probation for four years.