By Ben Lane, TSB Staff
Disclaimer: The following story from Tuesday’s public testimony in David Allen Russell’s sexual assault trial contains witness descriptions of alleged misconduct by the former McKinney chiropractor. Some of these allegations are extremely graphic in nature but are also vital to the case being heard this week at the Collin County Courthouse.
Testimony continued Tuesday in the trial of David Allen Russell, the former McKinney chiropractor who faces 13 charges of sexual misconduct with five different patients. The jury inside Judge John Roaach’s courtroom heard testimony from several people, but it was the last person who took the stand whose testimony was the most graphic.
Late in the day, the first of the five accusers took the stand. She testified that Russell inserted his fingers into her vagina to “massage her strained groin muscle from the inside.” She said she was 16 at the time of the incident and had seen Russell since she hurt her back in a car accident when she was 13.
At the time of the accident, she said she was a student at the Taylor Dance Center and her mother called Suzan Taylor, the owner of Taylor Dance Center, to advise Suzan that her daughter would not be able to attend classes while her back was hurt. The alleged victim testified that Suzan Taylor told her mother to take her to see Russell, who was Taylor’s boyfriend at the time.
She said that she began to visit Russell’s office frequently as he worked on her back and continued to see him for the various injuries she suffered while dancing. She said that her mother was present in the room during all of Russell’s treatments of her until she was 16 when she began to drive herself to Russell’s clinic before she attended dance class.
At those therapy sessions, she testified that she and Russell were always alone in the therapy room and that the door was always open. She said that without her mom in the room, the length of the therapy sessions grew longer as she and Russell chatted about her life, her dance competitions and the pending divorce of her mother and stepfather. “It was kind of a getaway for me,” she testified.
She stated that she would wear dance clothes to these sessions, which usually consisted of a sports-bra, a t-shirt or sweatshirt, and “booty shorts.” Asked by Collin County prosecutor Shannon Miller to define “booty shorts,” the alleged victim said that they were short shorts, made of swimsuit-like material, and that she always wore underwear underneath.
She testified that she visited Russell’s office frequently in the fall of 2009 so he could treat a groin injury she’d suffered. She said that it was during those visits that Russell began to make her feel uncomfortable by commenting on her underwear, her bra, her breast size, and the tightness of her vagina.
Miller asked her about Russell’s comments concerning her various body parts. She said he asked where she got a particular bra because it “made her boobs look good.” She said that he also said she had “big boobs” and that “her nipples were the perfect size” and that he wished Suzan’s breasts were the same size.
She said that Russell also commented on the tightness of her vagina while rubbing her groin muscle with his fingers inside her vagina. She said that he told her “the groin muscle ended on the inside and that was the only way to fix it,” and that if she wanted to dance, “that was the fastest way to fix it.”
She testified that while Russell was massaging the right side of her vagina, he said her vagina was tight and that her boyfriend was lucky.
She testified that she remembered six specific incidents when Russell made contact with her vagina with either his fingers or his palm. She said that he would make contact with his palm when he would apply therapeutic tape to her groin muscle. She said he would ask her to pull her shorts and underwear over to the side so he could apply the tape directly to her skin.
She said he would also apply a cooling gel to her muscle with his hands. She said that on one occasion, he did not wash his hands after applying the cooling gel and inserted his fingers into her vagina to massage her groin and that “it burned inside of her.”
She testified that Russell would make “small talk” with her while he massaged her groin muscle from the inside, but that “I wasn’t thinking. I was just clenching.”
Earlier in the day, both the prosecution and the defense questioned the lead detective who handled the investigation into the claims against Russell. McKinney Police Detective Techia Davis testified about the nature of the investigation and her reasoning for filing the original arrest warrant.
Defense attorney Todd Shapiro called the method of Davis’ investigation into question. Shapiro stated that Davis and her partners did not interview anyone else before arresting Russell based only on the forensic interview with an alleged victim.
The jury was also shown a video of the first interview McKinney police conducted with Russell when the allegations first surfaced. In the video, Russell, who at the time was not being charged with any crimes, stated that he never used “vaginal manipulations” as a therapy method.
He also explained his methods of treatment for groin and other upper leg injuries. In the video, he said, “I’ve never put my fingers inside of someone’s vagina.” He also stated that he was “unnerved” by the accusations against him. It was after this initial interview that the first arrest warrant was issued for Russell.
In the video, he said that it’s “possible” that he may have touched a patient’s vagina during a treatment session but that he never purposefully touched a patient’s vagina. He also said that the he doesn’t have a lot of time with his patients and that he may have placed his hand on a patient’s vagina while stretching them.
The word “possible” in Russell’s interview was a matter of interest during Detective Davis’ questioning. Davis testified that her original arrest affidavit stated that it was “likely” Russell penetrated a victim’s vagina during an exam. Russell’s attorney questioned Davis’ reasoning for changing Russell’s words from “possible” to “likely.” Davis said that in her mind, the two words meant the same thing.
The prosecution later introduced a page from the thesaurus into evidence that listed possible as a synonym of likely.
The jury also heard a former employee of the Taylor Dance Center who taught dance to several of the accusers. She said she was a former dancer herself and visited Russell’s clinic for treatment of her own injuries.
She stated that Russell offered to treat her groin and hip flexor injury by inserting his fingers into her vagina and massaging it from inside of her body. She said that he told her “it may be a quicker way to assist the healing process.” She stated she was “ kind of surprised because I’d never heard of a procedure like that but he’s the doctor, so maybe it’s something new that I didn’t know about.” She said she denied his request.
She stated that she “didn’t even think it was real” and therefore continued to see him for treatment because he was helping her injury to heal.
The alleged victim only testified for less than one hour late in the day before the court broke for nightly recess. She is yet to be cross-examined by Russell’s defense attorney. Her testimony is set to continue at 8:15 a.m. on Wednesday.