FARMINGTON, Utah (ABC4) — A former Utah therapist is facing felony charges after he allegedly abused a patient through his treatment to “get rid of her demons” for nearly a decade.
Maurice Wade Harker, 54, has been charged with second-degree felony kidnapping and second-degree felony aggravated abuse of a vulnerable adult, according to court documents. Both charges carry punishments of one to 15 years in prison and fines if convicted.
According to charging documents, Harker “abused and exploited” a woman under the guise of providing her therapy between 2012 and 2021. Harker allegedly told the woman that his methods, which reportedly included aggressive hands-on therapy and wrestler-style manhandling, were necessary in order to cleanse the victim of her demons. Specifically, Harker allegedly said “demon 713” was possessing the victim, causing mental, sexual and physical health problems such as PTSD among others.
The victim reportedly received several injuries over the years due to the treatment. Charging documents say she suffered a broken thumb in 2017, black eyes from Harker’s elbows on multiple occasions, a neck injury requiring a doctor’s treatment in 2015 and another neck injury where she reportedly thought she may die during the therapy session.
“Some of [Harker’s] techniques included using his training as a high school wrestler to manhandle the victim into submission,” prosecutors allege in the charging documents. “Part of that process would entail [Harker] physically restraining the victim and putting his hand over her nose and face so she could not breathe. The lack of oxygen was purportedly in order to relieve the victim of whatever demon was in the room at the time.”
In addition to the alleged physical abuse, Harker allegedly created an online dating profile for the victim and would pose as her through the app. The victim said he would encourage her to use the app to find sex, which made her uncomfortable. Harker also allegedly encouraged the victim to watch porn to help get rid of “demon 713.”
During some sessions, the victim would want to leave the session early. In these cases, Harker allegedly would not let and would “physically restrain her,” back her into a corner and tell her, “You don’t know who you’re messing with.”
The woman reportedly attempted to avoid going to therapy on multiple occasions, including driving to a church parking lot. Charging documents allege Harker used a tracking device attached to the woman’s keys without her knowledge to find her and track her down.
According to charging documents, the woman provided investigators with “a significant amount” of documentation that corroborated the claims of an abusive exploitative relationship.
Charges are allegations only. All arrested persons are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.