EVERETT — A Superior Court judge reversed her own decision on a jail sentence for a former Snohomish chiropractor convicted of sexually touching female patients.
Kenneth Parker, 62, was sentenced earlier this month to 2½ years behind bars. On Friday, Judge Karen Moore rescinded the sentence and ordered Parker be released from custody, saying she did not have the authority to find so-called “aggravating” factors at that stage in the case, and therefore could not hand down a sentence outside of state guidelines.
“My earlier sentence was inappropriate under the law,” the judge said in Snohomish County Superior Court.
Last year, over 20 women accused Parker of sexual abuse under the guise of medical treatment. Following a bench trial in front of Judge Moore, the ex-chiropractor was found guilty of four counts of indecent liberties. Four other counts were dropped in an agreement with the prosecutor’s office to present the case as a stipulated trial. Under state guidelines, Parker faced between zero to 365 days in jail for his convictions.
At Parker’s initial sentencing hearing, the deputy prosecutor and defense attorney proposed an agreed recommendation of one year in jail with credit for time served. This would have meant no more time behind bars for the ex-chiropractor.
But Judge Moore overruled the recommended sentence and handed down a sentence outside the standard range, known as an exceptional sentence. The prosecutor had not alleged any “aggravated” counts, but the judge found the counts to be aggravated anyway.
Moore said at the time she had the authority to deviate from guidelines because the recommended sentence was “simply too lenient,” noting Parker continued to provide inappropriate treatment even after the state Department of Health suspended his license.
Deputy prosecutor Bob Langbehn said the victims were thankful for the way Judge Moore handled the sentencing.
“They felt valued and heard in ways that perhaps the law had fell short,” Langbehn said. “Realizing of course that you couldn’t necessarily do what you wanted to do — the words that you expressed, the sentiment and the reason you did it was appreciated.”
Defense attorney Brad Meryhew made a motion to reconsider the exceptional sentence, citing case law, and Judge Moore granted it Friday afternoon. The judge opted to hand down the initially recommended year, with credit for time served.
Meanwhile, Parker spent three weeks in the Snohomish County Jail, waiting for his next court hearing. He was released from jail Friday.
“What I will say is you came before me three weeks ago and asked for some grace,” Moore said. “And now I’m asking you for that.”