SNOWFLAKE — On Oct. 19, Presiding Navajo County Judge Dale P. Nielson sent the latest 15 count sex crime-related indictment against longtime Snowflake Chiropractor Wesley Bowman, 74, back to a grand jury, finding that the Navajo County Attorney’s Office “failed to adequately advise the grand jury of (certain) details,” which failure “hindered the grand jury’s ability to make an uninfluenced decision,” the judge ruled.
This was the second time Bowman had asked the court to send charges against him back to the grand jury because of alleged irregularities in how the prosecutor conducted the proceedings and how the detective sergeant from the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office handled her testimony.
The first motion became moot before the judge could rule on it, because the state moved to dismiss the original two-count indictment for Bowman’s alleged sexual assault and sexual abuse against a former patient. The reason the state asked the court to dismiss the first one was because a grand jury had produced the second, new 15 count indictment. The judge agreed and dismissed the first, two-charges case, and now has found for the defense on the new indictment.
The new indictment
The new indictment was filed on April 6. A grand jury charged Bowman with 15 felonies including eight charges of sexual abuse, Class five Felonies, five counts of sexual assault, Class 2 felonies, one count of kidnapping (restraining someone for a sexual purpose) a Class 2 Felony and one count of aggravated assault, a Class 4 Felony. The new aggravated assault charge alleges a temporary but substantial disfigurement, loss, or impairment of an organ, body part, or a fracture, according to the court’s electronic docket. To the charges, Bowman pleaded not guilty and he is presumed by law to be innocent.
The litigation over the grand jury’s indictment provided a glimpse into the allegations by a total of eight women, who will not be named in this article, not even by their initials which court records contain. The prosecutor read the following draft indictment to the grand jurors:
Counts one through four allegedly involve the same victim. Authorities believe that between April 1987 and April 1991 Bowman simultaneously inserted his fingers into the victim’s lower half — under the law, that counts as sexual intercourse, and it is alleged he did it without consent. Bowman is also alleged to have committed sexual abuse (touching without consent) and sexual contact (some kind of sex act without consent) of the same patient.
Prosecutors allege that a second patient was victimized between January 1993 and December 1994 by Bowman inserting his finger into the patient, as stated, a type of sexual intercourse without consent. As best as can be gleaned from court records, this lady came forward around 25 years after the alleged incidents and reported it to the Snowflake Police, the Flagstaff Police (she reportedly lives there), but after Flagstaff PD found it was not in their jurisdiction, the Navajo County Attorney took up the case.
A third victim is alleged to have had her upper body touched by Bowman under her clothing between November 2005 and February 2006. The state asked for a charge of sexual contact without consent, for that allegation.
It is alleged that a fourth victim had her breasts “cupped” by Bowman without consent, and that Bowman did the same thing to a fifth victim after unhooking her bra sometime between April 2009 and April 2009 (probably a typo in court records) and ran his finger or fingers between two openings in the lower body over her clothing. This victim reported it to the Arizona Board of Chiropractic Examiners which heard the case and put Bowman on probation for sloppy record keeping, especially regarding documenting the consent of a patient. In her complaint to the chiropractic board, she said she went to Bowman for an opinion about a breast reduction and didn’t mention to the board about the over-the-clothing touching.
Prosecutors alleged that a sixth victim was violated between 1985 to 1988 when Bowman allegedly “groped her breasts under her clothes,” according to testimony. The seventh victim told authorities that Bowman inserted his fingers to allegedly adjust the patient’s pelvic bone which the detective said that the patient said that Bowman said, was “broken.” The patient also told the detective that she told him to stop and tried to get away but that Bowman “held on to her and told her to hold still,” probably the basis of the kidnapping charge. The patient also said that “it happened a lot,” during the years she sought treatment with Bowman.
Finally, the last alleged victim claims that on June 10, she experienced severe pain during an adjustment by Bowman and X-rays at a second chiropractor showed a broken rib. That’s the basis of an aggravated assault charge against him.
The first motion to remand and the second motion are similar in substance. The defense asked the state to have the grand jury hear sworn testimony from Bowman himself including the types of touching that the law allows in medical treatment. The defense claims that the rules of court give him the right to testify, and that an Arizona statute makes certain touching for medical purposes an absolute defense to some of the charges Bowman faces. The defense urges that the state violated Bowman’s right to due process by not informing the grand jury of that statute.
In fact, as early as January 2021, Bowman’s lawyer from the valley sent a letter to the prosecutor explaining that Bowman wanted to be present at and testify to the grand jury. He was not called. The lawyer also asked that the grand jury see the original typed statement filed with the chiropractic board and sent to police by victim number five, alleging that victim five’s statement says things or doesn’t say things that help Bowman’s side and that the law requires a prosecutor to include such testimony at the grand jury phase of the process. The jurors were not given the statement.
The state forcefully responded, claiming that the prosecutor told the jurors up front that Bowman wanted to testify but if they wanted to hear from him, it would would have to be at another time and/or date, and the jurors said after indicting Bowman that they didn’t need to hear from him. That the defenses identified apply to “physicians,” and don’t apply to chiropractors because the law says that they are not physicians. That the lawyer’s letter was not read to the jury, but portions or a summary the letter was read to them.
Finally, that the grand jury specifically asked the detective what kind of touching was routine in chiropractic treatment. The detective said that she had spoken with a chiropractor or two on the board and came away with the impression that the actions Bowman allegedly took were not part of routine treatment. Bowman, a chiropractor for decades, wanted to explain typical chiropractic procedures to the jury, but wasn’t called.
In the end, Judge Nielson found for the defense and sent the case back to the grand jury, writing that, “If a defendant has provided some degree of detail, at least as to the subject and outline of the proposed evidence’ (citing case law) the prosecutor has a duty “to convey that information to the grand jury...The State is expressly prohibited from merely summarizing evidence offered by a defendant who has identified specific evidence for the grand jury to consider.” Finally, that the prosecutor was “obligated to advise the jury of the defenses listed in (statute cited)” and they did not, the judge wrote.
If the case has already has been sent back to a grand jury, the public won’t know about it because grand jury proceedings are secret unless or until they return an indictment — there’s no record of one, yet. There is no new court date of record. The Independent will update this story as it develops.