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Ashland chiropractor gets probation for fondling client

An Ashland chiropractor won't have to register as a sex offender after being convicted Thursday of inappropriately touching a young woman during her massage appointment.

Mark Evan Machala, 44, was sentenced to three years of probation Thursday after he pleaded no-contest to a misdemeanor sexual harassment charge alleging he touched a 21-year-old patient's breasts during a massage. The victim had sought treatment for an injury, Jackson County Circuit Court records show.

The Oregon Board of Chiropractic Examiners suspended Machala's license in September. 

Deputy District Attorney David Orr said he chose to adjust the charge because having Machala register as a sex offender seemed unnecessary considering his lack of criminal history.

"I didn't think we're going to see this guy again," Orr said.

In a letter from the victim, the young woman, a college student, said she struggled to attend her classes after the incident.

"It really affected her deeply," Orr said.

The victim said she felt "isolated and alone" at the time of her appointment, and "embarrassed and angry" later because she "froze" in the moment.

A call to Machala's lawyer, Garren Pedemonte, was not returned, but previously Pedemonte described the incident as an "honest mistake" in which Machala believed the victim had welcomed his sexual advances.

"Had he known that she was not welcoming it, he wouldn't have gone there," Pedemonte said in October. 

As a condition of his probation, Machala was prohibited from working in the massage or chiropractic industry for two years.

Machala has an upcoming disciplinary hearing with the board, according to board president Cassandra Skinner. Machala has had no prior suspensions or disciplinary actions since he was licensed in November 2009.

— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.