Hypnotist Philip Sherwin jailed for sex abuse
A hypnotherapist filmed himself sexually abusing a 19-year-old patient while she was in a trance-like state.
Philip Sherwin (47) also had more than 40,000 indecent images of children on his computer.
After admitting the offences, he was jailed for 18 months at Leicester Crown Court yesterday. Sentencing, Judge Simon Hammond said Sherwin had exploited a "vulnerable, fragile young woman".
The judge said: "The defendant was acting in the capacity of a medical practitioner. He abused the trust of a woman who went to him for help.
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"He groomed her and created a situation where he could touch her and exploit her vulnerable state and filmed the abuse."
Sherwin, of Balfour Street, off Woodgate, Leicester, had twice successfully hypnotised the victim to help with anxiety attacks, gaining her trust, before recruiting her as "a guinea-pig for research".
He told her to take her trousers off so he could "remove the energy" from her legs and then touched her intimately. He filmed the incident and also took photos.
When he told the victim, who was in a light trance, to remove her top, she refused.
Following the session, she realised something was wrong and reported Sherwin to the police.
However, the teenager had no knowledge of being molested until officers discovered the footage, along with the indecent images of children, on Sherwin's computer, in July 2010.
She told officers: "I'd felt completely comfortable with him."
The court heard she suffered from depression afterwards and was too traumatised to take up a place at university.
James House, prosecuting, said before Sherwin's first "research" session with the victim he e-mailed her asking her not to tell anyone.
Mr House said: "He told her she may feel sexually aroused but shouldn't worry about it."
A report from a professor, an expert in hypnotherapy, described Sherwin's behaviour as "irregular in the extreme", clearly breaching the profession's code of conduct.
His hypnotherapy training amounted to a one-week course and a two-day seminar, the court heard.
Until his arrest, he was practising at the Centre For Balance, in Montague Road, Clarendon Park, Leicester.
Judge Hammond imposed a restraining order forbidding any contact with the victim and banned Sherwin from ever working with children.
His future computer use will be monitored and he will be on the sex offender register for 10 years.
The judge also said: "I'm concerned about the lack of formal training required and lack of regulation for people who work as hypnotherapists."
Claire Robinson, mitigating, said Sherwin's partner of eight years was standing by him.
The court heard he had left a job in printing to take up a career in hypnotherapy in 2007.
He has not practised since his arrest.
Ms Robinson said: "He's deeply ashamed of his behaviour. He'd like to receive treatment."
Sherwin admitted sexually assaulting the patient between April and July 2010.
He also admitted 10 counts of possessing indecent images of children – involving 42,437 images at level one, 137 at level two, 28 at level three, 74 at level four and one in the highest bracket, level five, between 2009 and 2010.