A hypnotherapist accused of sexually assaulting patients, including a troubled schoolgirl, has been found not guilty after a trial lasting several days.
Michael Walsh was cleared of groping a woman after hypnotising her to cure her fear-of-flying and of molesting the girl while she was being treated at his practice.
Sheriff Gillian Wade found him not guilty after ruling that confusion in the evidence of the girl over the dates of the offence – more than a decade ago – meant she could not be satisfied of his guilt.
She said that without finding him guilty of that offence she could not find him guilty of the other as they could only be proved if one corroborated the other.
Sheriff Wade said: “The grave difficulty I have is that I have to find that some of the behaviour took place prior to the complainer’s 16th birthday.
“Unfortunately, at various stages various witnesses gave differing versions of when things occurred. I am not satisfied the accused can be found guilty of either of these offences.”
The older complainer told Perth Sheriff Court she came round from a fear-of-flying hypnosis session to discover the Perthshire therapist’s hand up her skirt at the top of her thigh.
The woman said she was shocked and embarrassed and immediately slapped Walsh and pushed him away at the end of the session in her home.
She told Perth Sheriff Court it was her second session with Walsh and that the first had ended with him making an off-colour remark about her looking as if she had had an orgasm.
“I was hypnotized,” she said.
“He was right next to me with his hand up my skirt, on my inner thigh, and I don’t know how long it had been there. I have no idea. It was right at the top.
“I was so shocked. I can’t remember the exact position he was in. I was so shocked I slapped him away. I was wearing a black Hobbs skirt, which was knee length.
“He didn’t apologise or give an explanation. It was extraordinary. He acted like nothing had happened. I was shocked and embarrassed. I didn’t know what to say.
“I was so taken aback. Nothing like that had ever happened to me before. I felt he was in a position of trust.”
Outside court, relieved Walsh said: “Can you write about how I got off?”
The trial had previously heard from an international property agent that the “powerful and charismatic” hypnotist sexually assaulted her while she was a pupil at a Scottish private school.
The 28-year-old woman flew in from the Middle East to give evidence in the trial of alternative medicine practitioner Walsh, 70.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said she had been groped by Walsh at his practice at Greengairs Farm, Blairgowrie, more than a decade ago.
She said she regularly attended married Walsh’s home-based clinic and was allowed to stay overnight on several occasions as she continued to receive hypnotherapy.
“Mike had given me alcohol earlier in the day and told me that later that night we were likely to have sex,” she said. “I’m not making this up. I felt very guilty, ashamed.
“It took a while for me to work out what went on. It take a while to realise what had been happening. I don’t think many totally balanced 14-year-olds get sent to therapists.
“Now I’ve got a great job, I’m engaged and I live a truthful life. I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t telling the truth. I very much know the difference and that’s why I’m here today.”
Walsh of George Street in Blairgowrie, denied sexually assaulting a woman at Great Stuart Street, Edinburgh, between 1 November 2001 and 30 November 2003.
He also denied indecently assaulting the schoolgirl at his practice in Greengairs Farm, Blairgowrie, on a number of occasions between 1 September 2005 and 30 September 2006.