Chiropractor Jemal Abdullah Khan was sentenced on Thursday to four years’ imprisonment for indecently assaulting nine female patients and taking photographs of two patients.
Justice Charles Quin described the offenses as gross breaches of trust because the victims were all vulnerable patients.
He said Khan appeared to gain their trust in the course of initial consultations and then went on to abuse that trust in subsequent visits. He manipulated them into undressing for the purported purpose of massage or pain relief, the judge said. Khan then touched the women in inappropriate ways.
Khan’s offenses were carried out on the treatment table in his offices in Pasadora Place in George Town. They occurred between August 2014 and February 2016.
Justice Quin imposed separate sentences for each of 11 counts, but made them run concurrently. He said the most serious sexual assault offense could attract a life sentence in the U.K. In Cayman, the maximum is 10 years. He set his starting point at seven years and then considered mitigating factors that reduced the sentence to six years.
Because Khan pleaded guilty, thereby saving the victims the embarrassment of having to give evidence in a trial, he was given the full one-third deduction. That resulted in the sentence of four years.
For six of the indecent assaults, the sentence for each would have been four years, but it was reduced because of the guilty pleas to two years, eight months.
The judge passed a sentence of 16 months each in regard to two of the indecent assaults.
The insulting behavior involved taking photographs of two unclothed patients without their knowledge. The sentence for each of these was 18 months, reduced to one year for the guilty plea.
Justice Quin referred to the mitigating factors as presented by defense attorney Laura Larner in a hearing last month. A major factor was that Khan’s career was now ruined.
He had been a man of good character. He had been diagnosed with an impulsivity disorder.
He expressed remorse for his actions. Justice Quin read from a letter Khan had written to the court which stated that it saddened him when he realized the extent of harm he had caused to those who came to see him in a spirit of trust.
The court had also received reference letters from both male and female patients of the defendant; they described him as professional, knowledgeable and an extremely competent chiropractor.
Justice Quin said he also received an impressive letter from Khan’s wife. He commented that Khan was fortunate to have such a supportive partner during this difficult time for her and the family.
One of the aggravating features of the case identified by the judge was that it was not one isolated error of judgment, but 11 separate offenses that could not have been committed without careful planning and his choosing of victims from among his patients.
Justice Quin said the offenses came to light because of the courage of one patient who complained to the Health Practice Commission in January this year. A police investigation led to the finding of photographic images on Khan’s personal computer. They turned out to be of the patient who complained and another woman whose identity was not known.
After Khan’s arrest, police issued a press release without naming him. That release prompted other women to come forward. Justice Quin commended the officers for their speedy and sensitive investigation.
Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Patrick Moran asked for the destruction of the computer hard drive and the judge agreed. It was noted that no images of either woman had been transmitted to another party.
Khan qualified as a chiropractor in Canada in 1996 and came to Cayman in 1998. He was granted Caymanian status in 2003.