Warrant issued after physical therapist accused of sex assault skips court date

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Patrick James O'Donnell (Rochester Police photo)

ROCHESTER - The trial of a Rochester physical therapist accused of sex assault while massaging a teenage woman during a December 2020 appointment will likely be postponed again after he failed to show for his final pretrial hearing on Wednesday.
A jury trial for Patrick James O'Donnell, 56, of Tebbetts Road, was supposed to begin later this month, according to Strafford County Assistant Attorney Katelyn Henmueller.
After the court learned O'Donnell wasn't going to show a no-bail arrest warrant was issued.
Whether a new court date will be necessary will be discussed at his bail hearing, Henmueller said.
O'Donnell, a former physical therapist at Orthopedic and Sport Therapy Services in Gonic, is charged with three counts of sexual assault, practicing with an expired license and violating bail conditions from a prior unrelated arrest.
The trial has seen several delays in the past due to the Covid pandemic backlog and other issues.
A police affidavit written by Rochester Police Det. Jacob Garstin indicates the alleged victim - then 19 - contacted the Gonic sports therapist after she suffered a shoulder injury while moving an appliance.
She said during a Dec. 16, 2020, treatment as she lay on her stomach O'Donnell began massaging under her leggings and underwear and "moved his thumbs to the outside of her vagina and they (his thumbs) were moving in circles," according to a police affidavit.
The affidavit further states O'Donnell told her "she had a beautiful body" and that the alleged victim said "(he) tried to finger me."
The victim said during this time she had "tensed up and that she felt like she could not move or talk."
The victim told police that later he messaged her with his personal number with a message that read, "Little person without many legal rights ... if you could come at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow I'd have more time to torture you, work on the neck part, too. Can u do?"
On Jan. 7 2021, the Attorney General's Office approved a one-party conversation between the victim and O'Donnell in which she mentions "she's not sure this is something she initiated," the affidavit states, and he responds, "Well, I mean" and "that kinda doesn't matter, right?" and "I mean it doesn't matter, I shouldn't have acted that way."
During the course of the investigation it was also discovered O'Donnell's therapist's license had expired on Dec. 31, 2020, while he was still treating patients in January, leading to another charge, the affidavit notes.
The affidavit was viewed by a judge who authorized a warrant for O'Donnell's arrest on Feb. 11, 2021; he was arrested the next day and released on a $500 bond.

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