NEWS

Former physical therapist from Weed sentenced to four years in prison

Jessica Skropanic
Redding Record Searchlight

A Weed man was sentenced to four years in state prison on Wednesday, June 1 after pleading guilty to four felonies.

Paul Henry Zwetsloot, 54, pleaded guilty to sexual battery on April 6 as part of a plea deal. Five women had testified he abused them while he treated them as a licensed physical therapist at his Weed practice, the Siskiyou County District Attorney's Office said.

District Attorney Kirk Andrus said he applauded those who testified against Zwetsloot for having the courage to come forward.

“These women are survivors who were determined that their voices would be heard and their power would win out,” he said in the statement.

On July 9, 2019, a woman reported to the Weed Police Department she had been sexually abused by her physical therapist, Zwetsloot, the district attorney's office said in the statement. Authorities did not release her name because she is a sexual assault victim.

By the time senior Deputy District Attorney Melissa Whetstine presented the case to the Criminal Grand Jury in August 2021, four more of Zwetsloot's clients had come forward, describing sexual misconduct, the district attorney's office said. Three of the women described behavior with which Zwetsloot couldn't be charged because the statute of limitation had run out.

On Aug. 16, Zwetsloot was indicted on all four felonies, the district attorney's office said.

He was arrested on Aug. 18, 2021 and booked into the Siskiyou County Jail on suspicion of sexual penetration of an unconscious person, sexual battery, attempted sexual battery and rape of an unconscious person by fraudulent representation, according to the indictment

He was held on $100,000 bail, and was released four hours later after posting surety, according to Siskiyou County Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue.

More:Weed physical therapist arrested on suspicion of sexual abuse of patients

Conditions of the plea deal were that he plead guilty to two counts of sexual battery with a mandatory prison sentence of up to 4 years. He also must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, relinquish his physical therapist license, submit to HIV/AIDS testing, and submit DNA samples and fingerprint impressions, according to the DA's office.

Superior Court Judge John Lawrence handed the sentence after Whetstine argued the nature of the crimes for which he pleaded guilty deserved the full sentence. 

Reporting on file by Skye Kinkade contributed to this story.

Jessica Skropanic is a features reporter for the Record Searchlight/USA Today Network. She covers science, arts, social issues and entertainment stories. Follow her on Twitter @RS_JSkropanic and on Facebook. Join Jessica in the Get Out! Nor Cal recreation Facebook group. To support and sustain this work, please subscribe today. Thank you.