Chiropractor's license suspended following fondling charge

An Ashland chiropractor has had his license suspended in the wake of a pending criminal charge alleging he sexually abused a patient.

Mark Evan Machala's medical license was suspended late last month, according to the Oregon Board of Chiropractic Examiners. A female patient alleged that Machala removed her draping and fondled her during a December massage.

Machala's lawyer, Garren Pedemonte, described the alleged Dec. 21, 2015, incident as a misunderstanding in which Machala believed the woman was welcoming his sexual advances.

“This was an honest mistake in that he believed that she was consenting in him coming on to her,” Pedemonte said. “Had he known that she was not welcoming it, he wouldn’t have gone there.”

According to a document filed by the board, compiled from Ashland police reports, Machala allegedly deviated from the victim's massage treatment and began caressing her.

"She felt something was wrong but just froze," the document said. "She lay still not knowing what to do."

The victim opened her eyes when she felt Machala fondling her breasts, which had been covered by a towel at the beginning of the massage. Machala covered her back up and "nonchalantly" apologized, according to the document ordering Machala's suspension.

The victim later noticed Machala was visibly aroused, prompting her to speak up and ask him, "Is this common?" the document alleges.

Pedemonte said Machala retreated once he understood his advances weren't welcome, and he attempted to "right the situation" by terminating the doctor-patient relationship and referring her to another practitioner.

The board's document said Machala offered her a referral and promised to keep things strictly professional if she gave him another chance. The victim made another appointment but didn't go. 

Upon reflection, the victim felt what happened to her was wrong and reported the incident to police. The victim "felt sick" when she learned that Machala had a wife and family, the report said.

Machala has a trial set for Dec. 7 on a single misdemeanor charge of third-degree sexual abuse, according to court records.

The board has asked anyone with additional information to contact Investigator George Finch at 503-373-1615 or Health Care Investigator Frank Prideaux at 503-373-1848.

Pedemonte said the victim's experience was an isolated one, and Machala denies having any prior inappropriate relationships with clients.

"We're confident that there isn't going to be anyone else," Pedemonte said.

When asked whether Machala has had prior complaints, board Executive Director Cassandra Skinner said complaints against practitioners are confidential, but disciplinary actions are public. Machala has had no prior disciplinary actions since his license was issued in November 2009.

— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

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