MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

Osteopathy is hugely popular in France. Despite the fact that osteopathy has never been conclusively shown to generate more good than harm, French osteopaths have somehow managed to get a reputation as trustworthy, evidence-based healthcare practitioners. They tend to treat musculoskeletal and many other issues. Visceral manipulation is oddly popular amongst French osteopaths. Now the trust of the French in osteopathy seems to have received a serious setback.

‘LE PARISIEN‘ has just published an article about the alleged sexual misconduct of one of the most prominent French osteopaths and director of one of the foremost schools of osteopathy in France. Here are some excerpts from the article that I translated for readers who don’t speak French:

The public prosecutor’s office of Grasse (Alpes-Maritimes) has opened a judicial investigation against Marc Bozzetto, the director and founder of the school of osteopathy in Valbonne, accused of rape and sexual assault.

In total, “four victims are targeted by the introductory indictment,” said the prosecutor’s office, stating that Marc Bozzetto had already been placed in police custody since the beginning of the proceedings. The daily paper ‘Nice-Matin’ has listed six complaints and published the testimony of a seventh alleged victim.

This victim claims to have been sexually assaulted in 2013, alleging that, during a professional appointment, Bozzetto had massaged her breasts and her intimate area. “He told me that everything went through my vagina and clitoris, that I had to spread my legs and let the energy flow through my clitoris. That I had to learn how to give myself pleasure on my own,” she told Nice-Matin. The newspaper also recorded the testimonies of a former employee, a top-level sportswoman, an employee from the world of culture, and a former student.

“I take note that a judicial inquiry is open. To date, he has neither been summoned nor indicted,” said Karine Benadava, the Parisian lawyer of the 80-year-old Bozzetto. Her client had already responded following initial accusations from students: “This is a normal feeling for women, but if all the women who work on the pelvis complain, you can’t get away with it and you have to stop working as a pelvic osteopath,” replied Bozzetto. In another interview, he had declared himself “furious” and unable to understand the reaction of these two students.

The school of osteopathy trains about 300 students each five years and presents itself as the first holistic osteopathy campus in France.

______________________________

Such stories of sexual misconduct of practitioners of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) are sadly no rarety, particularly those working in the area of manual therapy. They remind me of a case against a Devon SCAM practitioner in which I served as an expert witness many years ago. Numerous women gave witness that he ended up having his fingers in their vagina during therapy. He did not deny the fact but tried to defend himself by claiming that he was merely massaging lymph-nodes in this area. It was my task to elaborate on the plausibility of this claim. The SCAM practitioner in question was eventually sentenced to two years in prison.

It stands to reason that SCAM practitioners working in the pelvic area are at particularly high risk of going atray. The above case might be a good occasion to have a public debate in France and ask: IS VISCERAL OSTEOPATHY EVIDENCE-BASED? The answer is very clearly NO! Surely, this is a message worth noting in view of the current popularity of this ridiculous, costly, and dangerous charlatanry.

And how does one minimize the risk of sexual misconduct of SCAM professionals? The most obvious answer would be, by proper education during their training. In the case mentioned above, this might have been a problem: if the director is into sexual misconduct, what can you expect of the rest of the school? In many other cases, the problem is even greater: many SCAM practitioners have had no training at all, or no training in healthcare ethics to speak of.

 

18 Responses to Alleged sexual misconduct serves a blow to osteopathy in France

  • One is reminded of the mordantly funny but quite rude film “The Road to Wellville” about John Harvey Kellog and his sanatorium. A quack appears in the vicinity, called Dr. Lionel Badger, played by Colm Meaney. He sees female patients and applies a treatment he calls “Manipulating the womb”, which involes a rather invasive hand….

    Such excesses are not the sole preserve of quacks, of course. DOctors and Dentists have been struck off for such liberties.

  • @Edzrad Ernst
    “Such stories of sexual misconduct of practitioners of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) are sadly no rarety, particularly those working in the area of manual therapy.”
    All generalizations like this are offensive and unprofessional in regards to Chiropractors/Physiotherapists/Osteopaths/Occupational Therapists?/etc and medical doctors for that matter, involved in “the area of manual therapy”.

    ANY sexual misconduct by ANY health professional is unacceptable and should face the full force of the law. Period.

    Your stepped over the line on this blog Edzard.

  • In this study it is the GP that scored worse than osteo/chiro. Box 4.

    https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2020/213/5/sexual-misconduct-health-professionals-australia-2011-2016-retrospective

    Others study have shown that MDs are least likely to loose their license when found guilty compared to other professions.

    Maybe manual therapists deal with it more harshly when it occurs?

    • @DC
      When you read scientific papers, it is important to read the whole thing, not stop at the first morsel of information that you think supports your preconceived expectations, and come running with that to the discussion.
      It is even more important to know how to interpret ratio’s, confidence intervals and so on. You further need to know that small (and even large) differences can be due to many other factors than a true difference between groups.

  • I agree with most of articles, this one just nitpicking. There are folks in every profession that have immoral tendencies who should be shamed. If you can show a scientific study on certain professions that are attracted to this deviant behavior, show us. Teachers in US are showing true colors, sexual predators, in news all the time regardless of sexual desires. Would love to see study on them. I understand this is about SCAM and request if off topic.

  • Prof. Ernst. In looking at misdemeanors and crimes by healthcare providers, you forgot to mention this one. It is funny how your research is so poor, that you miss some obvious cases.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Shipman

  • Looks like I pushed your button.

  • @Critical_Chiro

    Edzard is correct that these kinds of violations are common in SCAM treatments

    There are several fake “accrediting” bodies that provide qualifications in how to conduct anal and / or vaginal massage as a healing modality.

    Possibly the most notorious is the International School of Temple Arts (ISTA), an extremely controversial organisation for obvious reaons.

    The man named in this news article runs a service called “Tantric Journey” where he claims to be able to heal women of emotional trauma via vaginal massage.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/4638419.stm

    I do not wish to advertise his website, however he has been highly active since his reslease from jail for sexually assaulting female massage clients.

    He is not alone, men and women are offering these kinds of “tantric massage” services all over the country. Some of the “practitioners” who call themselves Dakas, Dakinis, Goddesses, sacred sexual healers, sexological body workers and a variety of other names are qualified and accredited doctors, psychiatrists and other health service professionals. Many are psychotherapists.

    I am extremely grateful to Edzard for highlighting these kinds of abuses as they are both common and under-reported

    Should you further threaten Edzard with legal action I will be delighted to provide significant evidence to demonstrate that my claims and concerns in relation to this issue are truthful

    • Wow, so the charlatan character played by Colm Meaney in “The Road To Wellville” is still current!

    • @Surreal Hustle
      If you look for rubbish you will find it with every profession (as Jim has pointed out above).
      Selection bias and cognitive bias is all too common within this echo chamber. 😉
      IF there are psychotherapists involved I recommend you submit a complaint here:
      https://www.bacp.co.uk/about-us/protecting-the-public/professional-conduct/
      As for sweeping statements like:
      “Such stories of sexual misconduct of practitioners of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) are sadly no rarety, particularly those working in the area of manual therapy.”
      I have called out “carpet bombing” cynics on this site many times.

      I recommend you look at Australia as a great place to compare professions as all health providers here are registered nationally under one regulator AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency).
      Their annual report breaks down disciplinary actions, suspensions, notifications etc for ALL professions. See here:
      https://www.ahpra.gov.au/Publications/Annual-reports/Annual-Report-2020.aspx
      What you may find interesting is more notifications/complaints are submitted to AHPRA by chiro’s on chiro’s than any other profession.
      As for “Should you further threaten Edzard with legal action”?
      I come on this site to put BOTH sides of the argument into the public record and call out rubbish when it is posted in blogs or the comments.
      I don’t post comments for the benefit of the small group of regulars here as some have invested 25+ years of their lives making public statements on one perspective so are locked in and incapable of accepting reform or change.
      I post for the benefit of all the lurkers who read this blog and do not comment.

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