Former employee of The Spine Worx speaks out about allegations against chiropractor

We've heard more details from a former employee of The Spine Worx and her husband.

Posted: May 12, 2021 5:22 PM
Updated: May 12, 2021 9:49 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — News 18 is continuing our coverage of an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against a local chiropractor.

We've heard more details from a former employee of The Spine Worx and her husband. Both allegedly witnessed Dr. James Pucka behaving inappropriately.

We did a reference check, and this former employee worked at The Spine Worx for three years.

This worker tells us that her complaint made it into the official report from the Indiana Attorney General.

"Over the years we would all be like, 'It's just going to take the one wrong person to walk in here and for him to say the wrong thing to the wrong person,' and it happened finally," said a former employee of The Spine Worx, April Robertson.

Robertson said she wasn't surprised to see a Facebook post accusing Dr. James Pucka of sexual harassment, but she said it was the severity of the accusations that caught her off guard.

"I guess I didn't realize how bad it was until reading it from a patient's perspective," she explained. "It was like really eye-opening."

Robertson quit her job at The Spine Worx in Lafayette the day after seeing the post.

"I was very conflicted at first because I've worked there so long and because I know him and because I've said for so long, 'This is just Dr. Pucka. That's just how he is,' but, yeah, that's how he is, and it's not okay," Robertson said.

She said she saw some of the alleged harassment firsthand.

"He would say, 'Well, here we make you take your clothes off or something like that, and of course, everybody laughs," said Robertson. "Always, multiple times a day, 'Get over here. Take your clothes off. Get over here. Get against the wall. Let me put my hands on you.'"

She said, at the time, she knew it was inappropriate, but didn't feel she could say anything.

"He sets the tone for the office because he's the owner and because he's your boss," Robertson said. "Of course you're going along with what your boss is saying."

However, Robertson said she was allegedly a victim too.

"He would just say things about, like, my large chest because that can cause back problems," said Robertson. "He'd say, 'Hey April, turn to the side,' and like refer to me when he was talking to another patient."

Even after becoming an alleged victim, she says she felt like she couldn't say anything without putting her job in jeopardy.

"You don't want to call out somebody saying those things," said Robertson. "It's uncomfortable and it's your job. He said inappropriate things to me, and I would laugh or banter back because that's how you cope with it."

So, she said Dr. Pucka's alleged harassment continued.

"He'd say, 'Hey, what size bra do you wear?' or 'How much do those cost?'" she said.

April's husband Wesley Robertson said he witnessed Dr. Pucka allegedly harassing his wife.

"He made jokes about her being crazy and jokes about her chest size," he said.

He said he also witnessed Dr. Pucka harassing patients when dropping lunch off to April.

"I hated going in there because from the second I walked in the door, I would hear sexual innuendos to customers."

Wesley said the experience was damaging to his wife.

"When you put in a day's work, yeah you're tired, but you shouldn't be in tears from the trauma of working there," he explained.

That's why April said she decided to come forward.

"I cannot sit here and not come forward and validate these women's stories because that's not fair to them," she said. "There have been 50 plus women who have come forward in messages, private messages and things like that, that have shared their story, and they're all extremely similar. They're all things that like I'm telling you."

She said she felt it was the right thing to do.

"I feel like as an employee, I should validate these women and their stories. It's true. It happens. It's not okay. There are tons of women. They're just too scared."

Despite the allegations, April said there are many people supporting Dr. Pucka, but said that didn't stop her from filing a complaint with the Indiana Attorney General's Office.

"This is not cancel culture," she said. "This is a person who is in a position of power, who took an oath to make you feel comfortable. There are people that come in there that are hurting or have all these multiple things going on that they're sharing with him and that is not the experience that they should be getting."

We want to make it clear that Robertson has not filed an EEOC complaint.

Despite what we've reported on Monday and Tuesday, including multiple attempts to reach him, we still have not heard from Dr. James Pucka.

As we reported Monday, the Attorney General's Office has requested an emergency hearing regarding placing Pucka's license on suspension for 90 days.

If you think you may have been sexually harassed in a professional setting, click here for more information on how to file a complaint with the Indiana Attorney General's Office.

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