Peter James Hoddle leaves Maroochydore District Court while a jury decides his fate. Picture: Patrick Woods.
Peter James Hoddle leaves Maroochydore District Court while a jury decides his fate. Picture: Patrick Woods.

Osteopath jailed for raping client on treatment table

An osteopath who raped his long-term client says he will move to Tasmania with his wife once he serves his jail sentence.

Peter James Hoddle, 70, showed little emotion on Tuesday afternoon as he was sentenced to three years in jail to serve nine months.

A jury took less than three hours to decide he was guilty of two counts each of rape and sexual assault.

 

Peter James Hoddle leaves Maroochydore District Court as a jury decides his fate. Picture: Patrick Woods.
Peter James Hoddle leaves Maroochydore District Court as a jury decides his fate. Picture: Patrick Woods.

Hoddle had pleaded not guilty to the charges on Monday before his victim was made to give evidence about the assaults that took place at Hoddle's Pomona practice.

She told a closed court that Hoddle first made a comment about her storing energy in her pelvis in late 2018 and suggested she try Tantric sex with her husband.

"That suggestion of Tantric sex was followed up by that creepy comment, disguised, passed off as a joke, that if he was younger he would jump on top of her and do it himself," Crown prosecutor Alexandra Baker told the jury on Tuesday.

Hoddle had been treating the victim's family for 25 years and she gave him the benefit of the doubt in attending further appointments.

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He removed her underwear and stroked her genital area in January 2019, claiming he was releasing energy.

His offending escalated in April of that year when he inserted his fingers inside the woman and later his tongue.

Ms Baker told Judge Glen Cash that Hoddle "feigned shock" and spent an hour and a half denying his actions to police in an initial interview.

She said the rapes had a ripple effect on the victim, her career and her young family.

 

Peter James Hoddle waves goodbye to two women who were supporting him in Maroochydore District Court. Picture: Patrick Woods.
Peter James Hoddle waves goodbye to two women who were supporting him in Maroochydore District Court. Picture: Patrick Woods.

Defence barrister Jason Todman said Hoddle's osteopathy licence had been suspended and he no longer worked in the industry.

"There's no need for ongoing supervision at his age," Mr Todman said.

"He is 70 years of age and retired.

"There will be no more risk to the community in similar situations ever again."

Mr Todman said "gleaming" references tendered to the court showed Hoddle was well-respected in his industry prior to his offending.

He said Hoddle had been married for a long time with adult children and grandchildren.

"His wife has stood by him all through the charges and will move with him to Tasmania upon his release from jail," Mr Todman said.

 

Peter James Hoddle leaves Maroochydore Magistrates Court. Picture: Patrick Woods.
Peter James Hoddle leaves Maroochydore Magistrates Court. Picture: Patrick Woods.

He said Hoddle's lack of criminal history meant he should serve less than a third of his head sentence.

Judge Cash said a sentence needed to denounce Hoddle's behaviour and provide a general deterrence to the public.

"All persons, not least of which women who are patients, have the entitlement to expect not to be treated invasively in this way when they engage in therapy of one kind or another," Judge Cash said.

He sentenced Hoddle to three years in jail, suspended after nine months.

Hoddle showed little emotion as he was taken into custody.

He asked his defence team to contact his wife.

Mr Hoddle's website states the "renowned metaphysical therapist" began studying yoga and meditation at 21 when he joined an ashram.

"It was here he had a life-changing experience through meditation that transformed and changed the way he viewed life forever," the website states.

"The experience led to an awareness that he had an incredible gift for relieving peoples pain, through massage and manipulating their bodies."

 

EARLIER

A defence barrister says an alleged rape victim was seeking attention when she complained she was molested by her osteopath.

Peter James Hoddle, 70, on Monday pleaded not guilty to two counts each of rape and sexual assault.

Crown prosecutor Alexandra Baker told Maroochydore District Court that Mr Hoddle had been treating a woman's family for 25 years when he began taking advantage of her trust in late 2018.

The woman had told the jury in a closed court that Mr Hoddle said she had "energy stuck in her pelvis" as they debriefed at the end of an appointment at his Pomona practice.

She claimed he told her to try Tantric sex with her husband.

"That suggestion of Tantric sex was followed up by that creepy comment, disguised, passed off as a joke, that if he was younger he would jump on top of her and do it himself," Ms Baker told the jury on Tuesday.

"What it does show, what it gives insight into, is the defendant's sexual interest into (the alleged victim) to make a comment like that, to push the boundaries and test the waters."

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Ms Baker alleged Mr Hoddle pushed the boundaries further on January 9, 2019, by removing the woman's underwear and stroking her vagina, making a whooshing sound as he claimed he was releasing energy from her pelvis.

Ms Baker said the woman gave Mr Hoddle the benefit of the doubt and returned to his practice on April 11, 2019, when he allegedly raped her.

She said two counts of rape accounted for Mr Hoddle inserting his fingers inside the woman before inserting his tongue inside her labia.

"He inserts his finger, one then two then three, and she froze," Ms Baker said.

"She was terrified he was going to use his fist so she gave an excuse to bring it to an end and then he used his mouth and fondled her breasts still under the pretence of this stuck energy.

"But he'd gone too far."

The woman confided in a family member who gave evidence in court on Monday alongside the woman's husband.

Defence barrister Jason Todman told the jury that the case came down to the credibility of the woman's claims.

"There's no forensic evidence, there's no eyewitness account, there's no CCTV footage- only what she said," Mr Todman said.

He said the woman's account didn't hold up and in previous therapy sessions with Mr Hoddle she engaged in guided meditation in which she imagined different scenarios.

Mr Todman told the jury to consider the woman's claims that Mr Hoddle touched her vagina for 30 seconds on January 9.

"Wouldn't you get up and walk out the session right away?" Mr Todman said.

"Think of your common sense …

"So it rings true that this was a normal osteopathic treatment and nothing untoward happened."

Judge Glen Cash said Mr Todman during cross examination suggested the alleged victim made false allegations to get more attention from her husband.

"(The woman) denied that was the case or indeed that there were any difficulties in her relationship," Judge Cash said.

"The absence of difficulties in her relationship seemed to have been confirmed by (her husband) as well."

Judge Cash said the real issue for the jury to consider was whether the woman's account of the events was truthful and accurate beyond reasonable doubt.

He said the jury had to consider and return separate verdicts for all four counts.

The jury went out at 11.40am on Tuesday.


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