Warning: This story details sexual harm and may distress some readers.
An osteopath who performed a non-consensual sex act on a female patient while her child lay on the floor of the treatment room can now be named.
Joseph Crozier, known as Joe, was the director of Morrinsville Osteopathic Clinic when he digitally penetrated the woman, 40 years his junior, during an appointment. He now lives in a retirement village in Tauranga.
In June, NZME revealed the details of Crozier’s misconduct after professional charges were laid in the Health Practicioners’ Disciplinary Tribunal. At the time he had interim name suppression, which lapsed today upon the release of the tribunal’s penalty decision.
While Crozier was today struck off from the profession, the victim did not file a police complaint and no criminal charges were laid.
According to the agreed summary of facts, Crozier performed the nonconsensual sex act on the patient after he asked if she “wanted extra”.
The patient told the tribunal she thought “extra” meant a longer appointment, but Crozier said he had earlier joked with the woman sexually so he believed she knew he meant something sexual.
The conduct took place as the patient’s child sat on the floor of the treatment room playing on a tablet.
Crozier later apologised in a letter to the woman, calling himself a “foolish old man” and explaining he believed he had her consent.
According to the evidence heard at the tribunal hearing in June, which NZME attended, Crozier worked as an osteopath at the Morrinsville clinic he owned.
He had been practising for more than 16 years when the woman met with him for treatment. The date and year the treatment occurred are suppressed.
The woman had three appointments with Crozier. In all of them, she stripped down to her underwear and bra. She was offered a covering while she was face up, but not while face down.
During the first appointment, Crozier claimed the woman joked about her previous physiotherapist not offering “extras”. He took this to mean “sexual extras”, but the woman denied this.
At the second appointment, while the woman was wearing only her bra and underwear, Crozier referred to her underwear and said: “I bet that keeps [your partner] happy”.
At the third appointment, the woman attended with her pre-teen child. The child’s age and gender are suppressed.
Crozier left the room for the patient to get undressed, but returned before she was finished and remained in the room.
During the treatment, he asked about her stomach muscles, lifting the towel and rubbing her stomach.
The woman said nearing the end of the appointment, Crozier looked at the clock and asked if she would be okay with “a bit extra”. She said “yes”, and approved again when the man asked if she was sure.
The woman said she believed “a bit extra” meant a longer appointment.
Crozier disagreed. He said he was convinced the woman wanted a sexual interaction - a view informed by the alleged sexual conversation at an earlier appointment.
He then pulled the woman’s underwear to the side and penetrated her with his fingers. The woman said she froze, not knowing how to make it stop. She pretended to orgasm.
Crozier then made a “distasteful” comment to the woman before handing her back her clothes.
When she paid, Crozier said “no charge, ACC can pay for that”. She declined to book a further appointment, saying she would “book online”.
She did not return.
‘Foolish old man’
The woman complained to the Osteopathic Council, which referred the matter to the Health and Disability Commissioner. The commissioner referred it to the director of proceedings, who lodged proceedings in the tribunal.
During this process, Crozier wrote a letter of apology to the woman.
“Mine were the actions of a foolish old man who for some inexplicable reason had come to believe a beautiful young woman was favouring him by her special attention,” he said.
“I now see my thinking and actions not only as wrong, but repulsive and ridiculous.”
It took the tribunal around 40 minutes of deliberation to determine Crozier was responsible for professional misconduct, and a penalty was to be determined at a later date.
The penalty decision was released today, censuring Crozier and cancelling his registration.
Crozier’s lawyer has confirmed he was retired and would not return to practice. He was also ordered to pay $10,524 in costs.
Crozier did seek a continuation of name suppression, saying he had since moved to a retirement village and worried he would be alienated if his name was released. He did not have the financial means to move, he claimed.
But the tribunal rejected the application, stating there was a public interest in identifying him.
Where to get help:
If it's an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
If you've ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone, contact Safe to Talk confidentially, any time 24/7:
• Call 0800 044 334
• Text 4334
• Email [email protected]
• For more info or to web chat visit safetotalk.nz
Alternatively contact your local police station - click here for a list.
If you have been sexually assaulted, remember it's not your fault.
Ethan Griffiths covers crime and justice stories nationwide for Open Justice. He joined NZME in 2020, previously working as a regional reporter in Whanganui and South Taranaki.
Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you