A Medford chiropractor was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison for more than a dozen sex offenses involving 10 female patients, among them a teenager.
Scott Brian Cooper, 54, was taken into custody immediately after pleading guilty to one felony count of second-degree sexual abuse and two misdemeanor counts of third-degree sexual abuse relating to three victims, including a 17-year-old under his care. He also entered no-contest pleas to nine other misdemeanors involving six other victims between June 2017 and January 2018.
Deputy District Attorney Virginia Greer said each victim described a similar pattern of abuse, starting by brushing their breasts or thighs in seemingly accidental fashion, before growing more deliberate under their care.
“You could see the escalation,” Greer said.
One woman, who described herself as “a survivor, not a victim,” recounted the confusion she felt last November, the first time she was touched inappropriately.
“I left that first visit feeling inappropriate,” she said in Jackson County Circuit Court.
A friend had recommended Cooper to treat injuries she sustained in a car accident, she said, and Cooper knew her boyfriend.
“He would never cross this line,” she remembers telling herself.
She said she came forward after news reports of his arrest in January, but said she still struggles with what happened.
She stopped going to any chiropractor, to the doctor and to the dentist.
“He was a medical professional who used his profession to abuse women,” she said.
The woman who made the first report against Cooper in October said she’d “never come forward with anything” before.
She said there’d been “minor incidents before,” but it escalated in September after an apparent breakup. Cooper noticed her boyfriend stopped coming to her appointments, she said.
The woman was Cooper’s last appointment of the day about 6 p.m., and Cooper told his office assistant she could go home.
Aside from a shoulder rub after discussing the breakup, she said her appointment started “OK.”
Within five minutes, however, Cooper started using his hands instead of equipment.
“Then within an hour, he started pulling off my pants,” she said.
Because Cooper was so much taller and heavier than her, she stayed stone faced and silent during the abuse.
“I was alone in the building with Dr. Cooper,” she said. “I played dumb, I played numb.”
She remembers looking out the window waiting for it to be over, hoping it wouldn’t escalate further.
“I prayed,” she said. A power outage after 7 p.m. was her chance to escape.
She got dressed and fled, she said, saying nothing as she went out the door. Then she “drove as fast as I could” away from the office.
Cooper’s lawyer Garren Pedemonte said his client is “tremendously remorseful,” saying Cooper ruined his marriage and hurt his family.
Cooper said little beyond a short apology, telling victims in a letter that they “did nothing to invite my violations” and said he’ll spend the “rest of his life suffering the consequences of his actions.”
“I deeply regret the mistakes I’ve made,” Cooper said to Circuit Court Judge Tim Barnack.
Barnack said he often sees sexual abuse involving a family member or someone the family knows, but “here it’s completely different.”
“The most horrendous part is they had to put themselves in a vulnerable position,” Barnack said, adding that Cooper used his education to confuse them.
Barnack then addressed the first victim to come forward, telling her not to think about “what-ifs” or questioning what she should have done differently.
“When you get in the elevator and leave, I would hope you wouldn’t give him the benefit of thinking about this,” Barnack said.
Barnack sentenced Cooper to 48 months with no possibility of earned time or early release. Cooper will have to register as a sex offender, and is forbidden from working in the chiropractic or massage field again.
Cooper’s chiropractor’s license was permanently revoked May 17, Oregon Board of Chiropractic Examiners records show. His license was suspended following his January arrest.
Reach Mail Tribune reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.