Published: 14:35, 08 February 2013 |
Updated: 09:43, 10 January 2014
An osteopath who sexually abused patients by insisting it was part of their treatment has been jailed.
Mark Piraino, a former student and tutor at the European School of Osteopathy (ESO) in Maidstone, was sentenced to 18 months for a string of indecency charges over a 12-year period.
When men and boys went to see Piraino with simple complaints such as a headache or a knee injury, he would tell them to strip naked then touch and fondle their genitals.
He denied all wrongdoing, but a jury found him guilty on five counts of sexual activity with a child and a further five of indecent assault.
Jailing Piraino at Guildford Crown Court, Judge Michael Addison said his crimes represented “a gross breach of trust”.
He now faces being struck off by the General Osteopathic Council.
Samantha Cohen, prosecuting, said Piraino, a married father of two young daughters, sexually abused five patients aged 13 to 31, between 1998 and 2010.
The offences were committed at the ESO’s Boxley House academic site; at Body Balance in Romford, Essex and the Westway Clinic in Redhill, Surrey.
Miss Cohen said the first person abused by Piraino, a 31-year-old, complained of back problems.
“He was told to strip down to his boxer shorts,” she said, adding that the complainant was surprised that Piraino’s treatment focused on his groin area.
Another male student sought treatment and was told he needed to get an erection to check for possible testicular cancer.
After accusations by two teenagers, Piraino was suspended by the General Osteopathic Council, sparking complaints from other victims.
Piraino, who was arrested in June 2011, denied any inappropriate or sexual misbehaviour.
Miss Cohen said a search of the defendant’s computers found that he was in the habit of accessing adult gay porn web sites, which he would look at while pleasuring himself, often between client sessions at work.
Mr Selva Ramasamy, defending, said Piraino, of Redhill in Surrey, had been a man of previous good character and a stalwart of his local church.
He added: “He has lost his status within the community and his profession.”
Piraino will be put on the Sex Offenders Register.
Adrian Barnes, principal at The European School of Osteopathy, said Piraino was a student at the ESO from 1992-1996 before becoming a member of the teaching faculty.
He said: “We at the ESO were shocked and concerned to learn of the offences committed by Mr Piraino at the Boxley House academic site.
“We are not aware of any similar allegations and/or offences having been committed at our teaching clinic in Tonbridge Road, Maidstone, where members of the public are treated.
“Our policies, processes and procedures are subject to regular review and have been developed considerably over the last decade.
“In light of the offences reported in court, we are, however, reviewing these again to minimise further the chances of such events ever happening in the future.
“We have also offered anyone currently involved with the school, whom has been affected by the case, the opportunity to speak confidentially with the ESO welfare officer and will provide such ongoing support as may be required.”
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