A Little Canada chiropractor disciplined by the state chiropractic board for touching female clients inappropriately was allowed to continue practicing until he was accused of rape.
Disciplinary records from the Minnesota Board of Chiropractic Examiners show that the board knew of Paul D. Thompson’s misbehavior as early as 1990, and that his first alleged offense occurred two years after he was licensed in Minnesota in 1984. He was given multiple chances to return to practice until he allegedly raped a client in May.
Thompson, 54, of Vadnais Heights, appeared in Ramsey County District Court on Friday on third- and fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct charges. The board temporarily suspended his license in June in light of the criminal case scheduled for trial Aug. 25.
“As a practical matter, the board tries to reconcile whether or not a doctor can remain in practice and do so safely,” said the board’s executive director, Dr. Larry Spicer.
Board records show that Thompson, who is out on bail, was placed on probation twice. They also show that he relapsed and defied board orders but kept his license.
The documents could play a key role in his prosecution; Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Kelly Olmstead plans to introduce them as evidence.
“The [Spreigl] evidence will be offered for the purpose(s) of showing motive, intent, knowledge, identity, absence of mistake or accident, common scheme or plan, opportunity, and preparation,” Olmstead wrote in a court memo.
Spreigl evidence is information about other crimes, acts or wrongdoing used to show that a suspect had the desire or conscious intent to commit the crime being prosecuted. It can also be considered prejudicial and unfair. Thompson’s attorney, Mike Colich, said Friday that he would deal with the issue at trial.
Thompson, meanwhile, left the courthouse Friday without taking questions about his case.
Placed on probation
A board document from 1991 shows that Thompson faced allegations that from 1986 to 1989 he “inappropriately touched and/or made suggestive or inappropriately personal remarks to several female patients and a female employee.”
Thompson denied the allegations, according to the document, but signed off on the board’s probation agreement wherein he waived a formal hearing on “all facts and legal conclusions” and agreed not to contest them. He underwent an evaluation by a psychotherapist of his choosing and was deemed “not a current risk to act out,” the document said. The board ordered him to stop treating female clients and juveniles, and to continue therapy for “sexuality and boundaries.”
He was also ordered to leave doors open at a client’s request, and to have a staff member present “on the premises” at all times.
Thompson petitioned to end his probation. It was lifted in 1995. “The Board wishes you good luck in your future endeavors,” said a 1995 letter written by Spicer.
In June 2004, Thompson was back before the board’s complaint panel to face an allegation that he “inappropriately touched and/or made suggestive or inappropriate personal remarks to a female patient.”
In a recent interview, Spicer said he could not recall details of the complaints and that it would be “improper” for him to produce them.
“It seemed like some of the allegations were making inappropriate comments to female patients …” Spicer said. “In today’s society, a business owner who refers to his female staffers as ‘the girls’ could be seen as improper.”
Asked whether the board brought any complaints to authorities, Spicer said, “The board does not report to the police department.”
Aside from the May incident, Thompson has not been criminally charged for alleged misconduct with patients.
The 2004 case led to another evaluation. “The evaluator concluded [Thompson] demonstrated a history of interpersonal and sexual behavior problems that are not resolved and require professional attention and recommended [he] undergo long-term therapy,” said a board document dated July 2005.
The board’s answer to that case was the same tactic it employed 14 years earlier: probation.
Thompson petitioned in 2006 to terminate that probation. In a 2007 letter, the board denied his petition because he failed to comply with the terms of his probation “by treating one or more female patients on certain occasions without having a third party present in the same room at all times."
The board, composed of five licensed chiropractors and two members of the public appointed by the governor’s office, voted to extend his probation to 2009 and suspend his license for a year. The suspension was stayed after 14 days.
Asked if the board should have taken a stronger stance with Thompson, Spicer said, “Honestly, I don’t think it’s a fair question.”
Board members did not return a request placed through Spicer to comment on the Thompson case.