A rural New South Wales dentist told at least one of his young patients under hypnosis that he was safe, asleep and wouldn’t remember a thing.
But the boy did remember what happened at Werner Otto Schwarz’s practice in the 1980s.
He was one of four patients to suffer devastating consequences as a result of being sexually abused.
The disgraced former dentist, now 82, was on Friday jailed for at least eight years over his ‘systematic and horrific’ abuse of the boys who were as young as nine.
It came after a jury in 2017 found him guilty of 16 counts of indecent assault and one count of sexual intercourse without consent.
Judge Helen Syme, in sentencing Schwarz to a maximum of 16 years, said he used his skill as a hypnotist to put the boys in a relaxed state where they were more likely to accept the abuse.
She said in the District Court one victim described feeling like a puppet while others felt they couldn’t command their bodies to physically move.
‘Even if they professed not to be hypnotised, they were terrified, and the effect was similarly debilitating,’ the judge said.
‘The use of this technique to render the young boys pliable to the offender’s selfish sexual perversions is horrifying.’
Judge Syme said Schwarz breached the trust and respect he had in the rural region where he worked – with his victims often too intimidated by his status to complain.
Most were encouraged by their parents to take the hypnosis in the belief it would be beneficial, with one child going to help ease his fear of medical care and another to improve his school marks.
Now middle-aged men, they continue to grapple with serious mental and relationship issues and suffer a phobia of medical professionals, the court heard.
The judge said some of them had also experienced a backlash in their community after Schwarz was charged when they should have been commended for their courage.
‘It is precisely attitudes like this that allowed such evil behaviour to exist and complaints to be discouraged,’ she said.
One of the victims, Philip Wright, said outside court the ‘hefty’ sentence brought to an end a very long process.
He said he’d made a request to the prime minister’s office to revoke a citizenship citation that Schwarz was awarded in 2010.
‘This dentist who was trusted can no longer be respected,’ Mr Wright said.
Schwarz, who appeared at his sentence via video link, will be 90 years old when he is eligible for parole in October 2025.