John Winer Quoted in SF Chronical article: “In over 42 years of handling a large number of psychological injury cases caused by chiropractors, doctors, psychotherapists abusing their influence, I’ve learned this kind of conduct by a chiropractor can create significant injuries,” said John Winer, Kohler’s attorney.
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Head of Alameda Fitness Center Surrenders Chiropractic License
By Mattias Gafni
The head of a popular fitness and wellness center in Alameda surrendered his chiropractic license after state medical investigators said he had sex with three patients and one employee at his business and cited other purported violations.
John Beall, who has owned RISE Bodyworks in Alameda since 2010, turned in his license Oct. 9 after the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners alleged he had sex with patients during exams between 2016 and 2018, as well as an employee in his office.
With another employee, he made inappropriate comments about her breasts and whether she’d been a prostitute or stripper, state officials said.
One former patient named in the state probe, Kerry Kohler, sued Beall, alleging he took advantage of her to have sex while she was vulnerable during two years of exams.
“I’ve had ongoing emotional trauma and anguish. I don’t wish this upon anyone,” Kohler told The Chronicle. “I’m grateful to have the strong support of a community that believes women who have been victimized.”
Beall, 51, acknowledged in an interview with The Chronicle that he made mistakes, but said he had “dating” relationships with the women and the sex was consensual.
“Since I did sleep with clients in the past, I stood up and took my (punishment) and voluntarily surrendered my license,” Beall said. “I have slept with co-workers and employees over the years.”
According to the American Chiropractic Association’s code of ethics, having sex with patients “exploits the trust and dependency of the patient.
“Sexual misconduct is a form of behavior that adversely affects the public welfare and harms patients individually and collectively,” the ethics guide states. “Sexual misconduct exploits the doctor-patient relationship and is a violation of the public trust.”
RISE employs about 40 people, offering chiropractic care, physical and group training, Pilates, acupuncture, massage and more. Beall said he still owns the business but no longer takes chiropractor appointments, although he works in the gym. The facility employs other licensed chiropractors.
In August, Robert Puleo, executive officer of the state chiropractic board, alleged 16 causes for discipline against Beall, including having sex with three patients and one employee, along with improper billing, failure to keep adequate records and unprofessional conduct. He asked the board to revoke or suspend Beall’s license.
Beall could have had a hearing before the board but decided to voluntarily surrender his license, which would enable him to reapply in two years. As part of the agreement, Beall agreed that the state board “could establish a factual basis for the charges in the Amended Accusation and that those charges constitute cause for discipline.”
Beall’s attorney, Michael Firestone, called it a “soft admission” in which he is not admitting to each and every allegation. He disputed “the majority of the allegations,” said Firestone, who said that challenging them with an administrative hearing would have been expensive.
“Dr. Beall … accepts responsibility for his unprofessionalism in blurring the lines when having romantic relationships with co-workers and patients,” Firestone said. “Dr. Beall has taken proactive rehabilitative efforts to educate himself better regarding the necessary boundaries in a patient-provider relationship and is confident he will not cross those boundaries again.”
He said Beall completed courses in boundaries and ethics. Beall has not been arrested or charged with any crimes.
In 2019, Kohler sued Beall alleging he took advantage of her as his patient and that the pair had sex over a two-year period. She alleged her marriage was crumbling, and that her father and father-in-law died in close succession, making her particularly vulnerable. She started seeing Beall after developing severe back pain in 2017.
“There is an inherent level of trust between doctor and patient,” Kohler said.
She alleged in the lawsuit that he texted inappropriate photos of himself and that the pair had sex in the massage room and his office dozens of times. They reached a settlement in May 2021.
“In over 42 years of handling a large number of psychological injury cases caused by chiropractors, doctors, psychotherapists abusing their influence, I’ve learned this kind of conduct by a chiropractor can create significant injuries,” said John Winer, Kohler’s attorney.
Beall said he learned a lesson and realizes he violated the ethics of his role as a chiropractor. “I totally get it now that that’s not cool,” he told The Chronicle.