A former Edmonton chiropractor who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting six female patients decades earlier — including two children — was sentenced on Wednesday to two years in jail and two years probation.
Ronald Latch, 67, stood in the prisoner’s box as complainants and their supporters listened to Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Marta Burns hand down his sentence.
Burns agreed with aggravating factors laid out by Crown prosecutor Katherine Fraser, noting Latch was in a position of trust, some of the abuse was repeated and two of the victims were children.
“Mr. Latch planned and executed a reprehensible scheme of sexually assaulting his female patients within the privacy of an examination room for his own sexual benefit,” Burns said.
“Each victim was in an extremely vulnerable position in these circumstances and Mr. Latch’s egregious breach of trust is highly aggravating.”
But the judge also agreed with defence lawyer Karanpal Aujla, describing Latch’s guilty plea as a “significant mitigating factor” because it meant the complainants did not have to testify.
Latch, who will be on probation for two years after his jail sentence, must submit a DNA sample to a national database. His name will be added to the sex offender’s registry for life.
In March, Latch pleaded guilty and admitted to preying on patients between 1981 and 1990. An agreed statement of facts said Latched massaged their breasts and used a vibrator on their legs and genitals.
Among the victims were an 11-year-old girl and two sisters. The victims’ identities are protected by a court-ordered publication ban.
“The day you stole my childhood nothing was the same as it was before,” wrote one victim in an impact statement read in court on Wednesday.
“I screamed silent screams every time I saw you, hoping it would end, hoping someone would see my silent pleas to take me from there. But that would not be the case. My world collapsed in so many ways.”
Statements from other victims described a range of consequences: from addiction, shame, low self-esteem and anxiety to the inability to work in high-paying jobs, bond in intimate relationships, enjoy sex or trust men.
‘I am not your victim’
But there was another common theme among the statements: empowerment.
“I am strong and I am stronger than you will ever be,” said one woman, her voice steady and clear as she read her own statement in court and someone wept in the gallery.
“I am a survivor of your abuse. I am not your victim. You can now own the life sentence that I have been carrying since I was a child.”
Leaning on the prisoner’s box looking out at the gallery, Latch, a married father of two adult children, apologized to the victims for violating their trust and causing such misery in their lives.
“I cannot ask for your forgiveness as there can’t be forgiveness for what I have done,” Latch said. “And no matter what I’m sentenced, my true punishment will be when I go before my maker.”
Court heard since being charged Latch has worked menial jobs to make ends meet and he has the support of family and friends. He recently lost the chiropractor’s license he’s had since 1981.
Outside the courtroom, one of the six women described the sentence as disgusting.
“When the value of six women’s trauma … is brought down to two years, that’s disgusting and that’s misogyny at its highest,” she said.
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