CRIME

Kaysville chiropractor sentenced to prison for sexually abusing clients

Oct 8, 2022, 11:03 AM | Updated: Nov 18, 2022, 11:51 pm
Judge Ronald Russell sentenced former Kaysville chiropractor Kenneth Pierce to terms amounting to 1...
Judge Ronald Russell sentenced former Kaysville chiropractor Kenneth Pierce to terms amounting to 10 years to life in prison on Friday for sexually abusing multiple clients.

LAYTON, Utah — She couldn’t put her finger on why she felt uneasy before a deep tissue massage in 2020.

Kenneth Pierce was a professional, the woman assured herself at the time, a reputable chiropractor in Kaysville. But then Pierce touched her inappropriately during the massage, and she said she “completely froze.”

The woman told her story in a 2nd District courtroom Friday during a sentencing hearing for Pierce according to a report on KSL.com. She is one of eight victims who came forward during the course of the case, prosecutors said.

Pierce, 56, pleaded guilty to object rape, a first-degree felony, and to seven counts of forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony.

Judge Ronald Russell sentenced Pierce to a term of three years to life in prison for object rape, and to a term of one to 15 years in prison on each of the remaining counts and ordered them to be served consecutively. The sentence essentially is for 10 years to life. He also ordered Pierce to pay nearly $3,000 in restitution.

Pierce’s impact on the victims is “immeasurable and cannot be overstated,” the judge said. “They’re going to continue to suffer.”

Pierce was initially charged in September 2021 with sexually abusing two of his clients. He faced 10 felony charges at that time. A total of 20 felony charges were ultimately brought against him, though 12 were dismissed as part of a plea deal.

In September 2021, a woman called police shortly after leaving her appointment at Right Now! Chiropractic, 150 N. Main in Kaysville. The woman had booked an appointment for a two-hour massage and said that during the second hour, Pierce inappropriately touched her multiple times, according to the charging documents.

After police were contacted, detectives recalled similar allegations made by another woman. In July, she reported being inappropriately touched several times while receiving a massage, the charges state.

Both women reported that Pierce scheduled their appointments after hours and locked the business door after they entered. When questioned by police, Pierce allegedly told officers that the women wanted to be touched in those areas.

‘I was terrified’

The woman who spoke during Pierce’s sentencing said in the months after the sexual abuse, she suffered from anxiety, sleeplessness, hurt and especially shame — she blamed herself for a long time, she said, wondering why she froze instead of speaking up.

The tension strained her marriage and made intimacy with her husband difficult, she added. She even switched doctors halfway through her most recent pregnancy, no longer comfortable with male medical professionals.

She was haunted by recollections of Pierce’s hands like sandpaper on her skin, the woman said. She had a nightmare after the abuse, in which she was curled up in the fetal position as a bear attacked her, hoping that, if she just stayed still long enough, the bear would go away.

A therapist helped her understand that her body reacted to Pierce’s abuse the same way it would to a bear attack: freezing and hoping the bear would lose interest.

The woman said she finally gained the courage to file a police report. She said she is working through her trauma in therapy, and she and her husband have strengthened their marriage through counseling.

But nothing changes “how violated I felt,” she said. “I was terrified.”

She hurts for herself, hurts for Pierce’s family, and is “even hurt for (Pierce),” the woman said. “I can’t imagine the demons he must live with every day.”

Prosecutor Blithe Cravens said the set of facts for each victim is “markedly similar.” For instance, Pierce isolated each woman by scheduling her appointment on a Saturday when no one else was in the office.

That’s why it’s the state’s position that Pierce’s sentences should “unquestionably” run consecutively, she said.

Defense attorney Michael Bouwhuis conceded that when Pierce was arrested, he was mostly sorry that he’d been caught. But over the last year, Pierce has had time for the weight of his actions to sink in.

Bouwhuis said he suspects that Pierce will be paroled at some point, and when that time comes, he hopes Pierce has worked through whatever issues led him down this road.

He asked that Pierce’s counts run concurrently so that the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole could have more discretion in determining when it’s appropriate for Pierce to be paroled.

Pierce also addressed the court, wearing prison stripes and chained at the waist. “Words cannot express the sorrow and regret I have … for the pain I have caused,” he said in a raspy voice.

He said he recognizes that the trust he broke and the decisions he “stupidly” made have destroyed his life and deeply hurt the victims. He said he hopes the women can someday forgive him.

“This will never be in my body again,” he said. “I am truly sorry.”

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Kaysville chiropractor sentenced to prison for sexually abusing clients