Plea agreement reached in Riding case in Radford

Radford Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Rehak released a statement today on the case of Radford alternative medicine practitioner Martin V. Riding.

Riding plead guilty Friday to 16 misdemeanor counts of practicing a profession or performing acts without proper license.

He had also been charged with the sexual abuse of clients, however, those charges were dropped.

Riding, 67, operated the Renew For Life holistic health clinic in his home. He originally faced 32 felony counts and 32 misdemeanor counts connected to practicing a profession without a license, seven felony counts of animate object sexual penetration, one felony count of taking indecent liberties with a minor, and one misdemeanor count of indecent exposure.

Rehak’s statement:

At 9:00 a.m. today in Radford City Circuit Court, a plea agreement for Martin Riding was accepted by the court.   Riding, age 67, entered a guilty plea to sixteen (16) misdemeanor counts of practicing a profession or performing acts without proper license.  He was sentenced to twelve (12) months on each, run concurrent with no time suspended.  Defendant was also fined $3,200 or $200 for each conviction.  Defendant gets credit for time served, ordered to have no contact with the victims and barred from health care work and health related business ventures. The remaining charges were dismissed.

“Any case with thirty-five separate victims present a host of unique challenges, but these bizarre facts significantly complicated the Commonwealth’s legal strategies, trial preparations and plea negotiations.  Most victims were naive, vulnerable and find themselves understandably embarrassed yet angry. This conviction agreement means those victims avoid court and preserve their privacy.  After considering victim input, I decided this compromise was best for all involved.  The plea agreement ensured convictions and eliminates the lingering appeals surely to have followed.

The object sexual penetration crimes required proving both intimidation and lack of consent beyond a reasonable doubt – just two of the issues which became increasing problematic.  Unfortunately, Virginia’s medical profession licensure laws provided their own set of difficulties.  Defendant contested the definition of invasive procedures and may have even been exempt under Virginia Code section 54.1-3001 which protects and excludes “[any individual who provides stroking of the hands, feet, or ears or the use of touch, words, and directed movement, including healing touch, therapeutic touch, mind-body centering, orthobionomy, traeger therapy, reflexology, polarity therapy, reiki, qigong, muscle activation techniques, or practices with the primary purpose of affecting energy systems of the human body].”