Radford ‘family alternative therapist’ has 59 charges, including sex crimes, dropped in plea deal

RADFORD, Va. – A Radford man who practiced as a family alternative therapist and faced 75 charges saw 59 charges against him dropped, including nine sex crime-related charges, as part of a plea agreement.

Martin Riding, 67, faced 32 felony counts of practicing a profession without an appropriate license, 32 misdemeanor counts of practicing a profession or performing acts 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.

Riding’s deal saw all but 16 misdemeanor counts of practicing a profession or performing acts without proper license against him dropped, according to Radford City Commonwealth’s Attorney Chis Rehak.

On those 16 charges Riding pleaded guilty to on Friday morning, he’ll serve 12 months on each count to run concurrently, meaning 12 total months in prison. He will receive credit for time served and was fined $3,200.

As part of the agreement, he was ordered to have no contact with the victims and barred from health care work and health-related business ventures.

Riding was arrested on June 17, 2019 after being indicted by a grand jury on the 64 medical-related charges.

In September, he was arrested on charges of multiple sex crimes.

Rehak explained the reasoning behind the plea agreement in a news release:

“Any case with 35 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].”

Paul Beers, Riding’s legal counsel, provided this statement to 10 News:

Mr. Riding was charged with 42 felonies and 33 misdemeanors. He pleaded guilty to just 16 of the misdemeanors. He was never guilty of any of the dismissed felonies or misdemeanors, including those charges which involved allegations of sexual misconduct. We appreciate the determination reached by the Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Radford that all 42 felonies and 17 of the misdemeanors should be dismissed. Mr. Riding looks forward to returning home in about 10 days.

Paul Beers, Martin Riding's lawyer