A Baton Rouge physical therapist was arrested again on Monday after five more former patients, all women, accused him of sexually assaulting them under the guise of medical treatment.
Philippe Veeters, a former co-owner and therapist at Dutch Physical Therapy, was booked on six additional counts of sexual battery as well as one count of simple battery after the five women came forward to describe their accounts of inappropriate interactions and treatment alone in a room with Veeters. He was previously arrested in February when two other women accused him of sexual assault.
A Baton Rouge physical therapist has been accused in a second case of sexual battery committed under the guise of medical treatment, and autho…
All seven women describe how they sought treatment for back or upper body pain and issues, yet in their appointments with Veeters, he would touch them in their vaginal area, according to the arrest warrants. And in every case, the women reported Veeters did not wear gloves when he directly touched their skin and there was no other medical professional in the room, all violations of physical therapy best practices.
"The victim stated every visit consisted of some type of gyration movement, the accused touching her buttocks area and never focusing on her back," one arrest report says. Another alleged that Veeters squeezed the woman's buttocks and pushed on her pubic bone. Another noted that when Veeters finished an examination, he would "tap her on the vaginal area and advise her to get up."
One arrest report details how during one examination, Veeters pulled down the woman's pants and underwear without warning, exposing her butt, which he said was to see her whole spine better. Later he instructed her to do exercises on the table, during which he touched her bare back and stomach. She returned for a second examination with another therapist at the clinic, but had a completely different experience: "This therapist never touched her body and also instructed her to do a completely different set of exercises."
Two of the women said they came forward after seeing the story in the news last month about Veeters.
"The victim only decided to come forward with her complaint after learning the accused was recently arrested for inappropriate behavior with patients," one of the reports says.
East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III said on Monday other women came forward with similar allegations, but they fell outside the four-year statute of limitations for sexual battery. He said he did not know how many more cases could be relevant, but said his office will consider and review all the accounts to determine if they can prosecute them, or if they could be used as additional evidence in a case.
Veeters, 54, is currently serving a nine-month suspension of his physical therapist license, handed down in November by the Louisiana Physical Therapy Board after they investigated the first case, which included allegations that Veeters pulled down a woman's underwear, then touched her genital region without warning or her consent.
The state Physical Therapy Board, which conducted a separate investigation from the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office, determined Veeters' procedure was “clinically unnecessary and needlessly invasive of the victim’s privacy.” The board’s decision also notes the patient should have been draped, Veeters should not have removed her undergarments for the exam, and that other personnel should have been present.
Once Veeters' license suspension is lifted, he will remain on probation with the Physical Therapy Board for a minimum of five years.
The board's report notes that a similar complaint was made against Veeters in 2012, yet that investigation did not lead to any discipline. The board instead placed him on notice, and explained his interactions with the woman were "ill-advised, showed poor clinical judgement and were perceived by the patient as possibly inappropriate." That report notes Veeters could meet with a board committee about obtaining consent and "educating patients on tests involving the pubic region."
A Baton Rouge physical therapist booked on sexual battery Monday is accused of a June incident involving a patient.
Veeters is also facing a federal lawsuit from one of the women who accused him of sexual assault. The woman, who asked to not be publicly identified, filed the lawsuit in October in federal district court in Baton Rouge against Veeters, as well as the company he co-owned with his wife, Dutch Physical Therapy, which has multiple locations in Baton Rouge. The lawsuit alleges Veeters both sexually battered and assaulted the woman, without warning or consent, under the guise of medical treatment, violating of her rights under federal patient protection and Title IX laws.
The federal judge presiding in that case has granted a stay on the lawsuit pending the criminal cases on the state level.
Sarah Wagar Hickman, who is representing the woman in the federal lawsuit, said she knows at least one of the other women has since come forward with an additional complaint to the state's physical therapy board.
“There were complaints made; why was he allowed to continue his practice?" Hickman said. "That’s a question that has to be answered."
Veeters' criminal attorney, John McLindon, and Veeters' attorneys in the civil lawsuit, with Olinde & Mercer LLC law firm, did not return calls or messages requesting comment in the case. The state Physical Therapy Board report of the first of the criminal complaints says Veeters "has maintained that his conduct was professional and conformed to the standards of acceptable practice."
Racheal Hebert, the CEO and president of Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response (STAR), a nonprofit in Louisiana that works with survivors of sexual trauma, said this case shows how the culture is changing around sexual assault.
"I think a lot of that is the #MeToo movement," Hebert said. "This case is so important because it shows how someone can get away with something for so long. You have to assume that other people picked up on these behaviors, whether it be other coworkers, other clients, no one had the bravery or had the inclination to say something about it."
Hebert, who declined to comment on any specifics in this case, said people should not discredit the additional complainants since the case made the news because many of them may have been reluctant to come forward without knowing there could be others like them.
"There is power in numbers for survivors; they feel like they have someone corroborating their story," Hebert said. "And that’s especially important for someone with a lot of credibility in the community.”