Physio 'bit client and growled to satisfy sexual urges', court told
A physiotherapist bit a client's shoulder while she was lying on his table and growled "like a baby lion" to "satisfy his sexual urge", a tribunal has heard.
Christopher Lewis allegedly carried out the act after pressing his body against the woman and squashing her breasts as he provided therapy on her fractured shoulder, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) panel heard.
Sophie Lister, representing the HCPC, said Lewis had spoken to his client about how physical injuries can affect sexual relationships during the session at Verulam clinic in St Albans, Hertfordshire, on May 13 last year.
"Towards the end of the conversation Mr Lewis started work her right shoulder and slowly leaned across and squashed her breasts, still keeping eye contact and bit the skin of her left shoulder playfully," Ms Lister told the hearing in central London.
"It made her feel uncomfortable, vulnerable and shocked."
Giving evidence, the woman, who cannot be named, said she thought Lewis made a noise as he bit her.
"It was a bit of a growl," she said. "It wasn't a lion growl. Like a baby lion growl."
"There was no way this was a peck or a kiss," she added.
"He had my skin in his teeth and shook his head in a similar way to a cat does when he does a bite."
Following the session, she cancelled a future appointment after emailing Lewis to say his alleged behaviour had "blurred the lines", Ms Lister said.
The physio sent a reply in which he said he realised he made a mistake and had not acted "appropriately", the lawyer said.
He later telephoned the woman to apologise, she added.
Ms Lister went on: "We say Mr Lewis's actions were motivated and done for his sexual gratitude, to satisfy his sexual urge and impulse. Not withstanding what he will say, there is no other feasible explanation for his actions."
She added: "We say the intention was for his sexual gratification and no other reason."
Lewis, who is facing a conduct and competence committee, denies biting the woman or that his actions were sexually motivated but admits squashing her breasts with his torso "in the context of a hug", his lawyer Nicholas Toms said.
The hearing is expected to last until Friday.
Cross examining, Mr Toms said Lewis had hugged the woman after noticing her "grimacing" during some of the "painful" treatment.
The woman replied: "A hug does not involve biting someone. A hug usually involves an arm going round a person, not lying on them.
"It was not a hug. It would not be interpreted as a hug in any shape or form."
Mr Toms said the woman's email to Lewis in which she cancelled her later appointment had described his actions as a "hug".
She replied: "I'm effectively being accused of lying. I'm not lying.
"We would not be here if he had given me a hug."
The woman admitted the bite had not left a mark. "It wasn't a painful bite," she said. "It was a bite taking hold of my skin."
She denied that she had mistaken the feel of Lewis's beard for a "peck" on her shoulder.
"I have no recollection if he had a beard or not," she added.
The woman said there was "certainly no flirtation" towards the physio. She added: "The reason I didn't challenge him at the time was I felt extremely vulnerable."