Stage hypnotist cleared of sex assault charges
A HYPNOTIST wept with relief yesterday after he was cleared of sexually assaulting two young women he had hypnotised during a stage show.
After a jury at Trim Circuit Court cleared him of both counts of sexual assault, the hypnotist said he had given up stage shows and the incident had triggered his decision to quit performing.
``This would have been the final straw for me,'' said the man, who had told the court that the charges against him were just too difficult to cope with.
``I felt I was not able to take any more risks,'' he added.
The women had claimed in court that they were told under hypnosis that they had lost a body part and believed it was their breasts. They said the man had sexually assaulted them when he was ``putting their breasts back''.
The judge in the case warned against identifying any of the parties in the action.
In court, the performer said that he agreed with evidence given by Dr Ivor Browne, a consultant psychiatrist, that a person who is hypnotised is likely to have a distorted memory of events.
He told the court that he always had it at the back of his mind that something might backfire. He said: ``If I were to look at it in hindsight I would probably never have started in the profession.''
He denied assaulting either of the women and said he had to rehypnotise them to bring them out of the trance they were in. He had done that by taking their hands in his and putting their hands on their breasts to assure them that they were intact.
He said that in relation to the show, which took place at a hotel in September 1997, no person had removed any part of their clothing nor were they asked to.
``The reaction of the audience was excellent. They were pretty riotous and there was a lot of screaming and laughing. It seemed to go down very well,'' he said.
He said that `losing' a body part was very common in hypnotism shows and that he did not specify what body part they would lose. Each volunteer decided that.
The hypnotist said he had brought each of the women into a corridor off the hotel foyer because the first thing he needed to get them out of the trance was quiet.
He had tried to snap them out of it by telling them that they were not missing anything but that had not worked. He said that one of the girls had said that if she did not find her breasts her boyfriend would kill her.
He said one woman had slumped in the corridor and he caught her instinctively around the waist to stop her falling but at no stage had he touched her breasts.
He agreed that both of the girls were upset before he rehypnotised them. He said he also had to snap two of the male volunteers out of their trance.
However the hypnotist agreed with prosecution counsel that safety precautions to ensure that volunteers for hypnotism did not leave the hotel too soon afterwards had not worked.
The performer said he had not dealt with all of the eight people who had volunteered and who were on stage. He had taken four of them out of their trance, but said he did not know what happened to the others. Not everyone needed to be taken out of a trance, he said.
He denied that he had the women alone in the corridor for any improper purposes and said it was quite a shock when he was then confronted by members of one of party claiming he had sexually assaulted their friend.