Convicted Westchester chiropractor Thomas Dickershaid was sentenced to 24 years in prison Monday, October 29th, for sexually assaulting several women over a three-year period.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Katherine Mader had the option to sentence the defendant to up to 40 years in state prison. Prosecutors had asked for 32 years.
Dickershaid, 66, was arrested a year ago after two women contacted police and alleged that he had sexually assaulted them in his Westchester office. The ages of the women ranged from the late 20s to the 60s.
Four of the women were former patients of Dickershaid.
He was convicted September 27th on 11 counts of rape and sexual battery. The charges against Dickershaid included sexual battery by restraint, sexual battery by fraud, forcible rape and sexual penetration with a foreign object. The doctor’s DNA was found on two of the women, with whom he claimed that he had consensual sex.
Deputy district attorney Lisa Houle, who prosecuted Dickershaid, predicted in an earlier interview that the doctor would receive at least a 20-year sentence.
“On the conservative side, it’s going to be at least in the lower 20s,” she said. “[The defendant] is facing many, many years in state prison.”
“The district attorney’s office is very pleased at the outcome and with the sentence,” said Houle the day after Dickershaid was sentenced. “Judge Mader made it very clear that she thinks that [the defendant] is a danger to society and that she did not believe his testimony on the witness stand.”
Because Dickershaid was the doctor of four of the victims, Houle feels that fact made the defendant’s conduct even more egregious.
“He was in a position of trust, these victims put their faith and trust in him, and he took complete advantage of that relationship and assaulted them under the guise of giving chiropractic care,” she said.
“My client will be appealing the ruling,” David Diamond, Dickershaid’s lawyer, told The Argonaut. “We will be asking the judge to [vacate] the jury’s decision.”
Three of the victims were in court the day that Mader pronounced the sentence.
“They are very happy with the outcome and have expressed extreme gratification for the sentence that the judge gave [Dickershaid],” said Houle.
The California Board of Chiropractic Examiners will seek to strip the doctor of his license.
“We have concluded our investigation, and we will be recommending to the state attorney general to revoke Dr. Dickershaid’s license,” said Brian Stiger, executive officer of the board.
Dickershaid will seek to retain his ability to practice as well as overturn the verdict, according to his attorney.
“My client will continue to fight not only to repair his good name but also to keep his license,” Diamond confirmed.
While prosecuting physicians is not commonplace, it is not unheard of, according to Houle. “In fact, we are seeing it happen more frequently,” she noted, adding that she recently won the conviction of another doctor in Santa Monica on similar charges.
Diamond cited insufficient evidence to convict his client as the basis for the pending appeal.