Victim ‘floored’ as B.C. relationship guru may escape criminal record for domestic violence

A B.C. relationship coach who admitted to assaulting his then-partner on two occasions is set to walk away without a criminal record, after receiving a sentence the victim describes as a “complete failure” for the justice system.

Former chiropractor Nima Rahmany pleaded guilty in Vancouver provincial court last month to two counts of assault and received a one-year conditional discharge, telling the court his violence was the result of being “triggered” by his victim, Amanda Kroetsch.

In handing down the sentence, Judge Ellen Gordon said Rahmany was remorseful with a “very deep understanding” of why he committed the assaults.

The conditional discharge means if Rahmany keeps the peace and is of good behaviour for the next 12 months, no conviction will be entered on his record.

For Kroetsch, the sentence felt like a slap in the face.

“I was floored. I had been coached to manage my expectations, but I was not prepared for there to be no criminal record eventually, as if this never happened,” she told CBC News.

“I don’t really have the words to describe the culmination of that whole experience, other than it was a complete and utter failure.”

Rahmany had been charged with assaulting Kroetsch in five separate incidents over a period of nearly two years, including one charge of assault causing bodily harm, but the remaining charges were stayed when he pleaded guilty.

Legal experts and domestic violence advocates who reviewed a transcript of the sentencing hearing and the sentencing decision say there are reasons for concern about how the legal system treats domestic violence. That includes Rahmany’s statements in court rationalizing his violence and the judge’s assessments of his character and remorse.

Angela Marie MacDougall, executive director of Battered Women’s Support Services, said she was disturbed to see the judge apparently accept Rahmany’s explanation of being “triggered.”

“It’s astounding, actually, to see that this judge would agree that there would be some excuse for violence,” MacDougall said.

“It just gives us pause over and over again about to what extent the legal system can be useful for any victim.”

A selfie photo shows a woman with long brown hair under a white baseball cap holding a tiny black and brown dog. She is wearing a black tank top and positioned in front of False Creek in Vancouver, with the condo towers of Olympic Village in the background.
Amanda Kroetsch says she has suffered lasting psychological, physical and financial damage as a result of her abusive relationship with Nima Rahmany. (Submitted by Amanda Kroetsch)

Haley Hrymak, a research and community outreach lawyer at Rise Women’s Legal Centre, said abusers frequently try to “mutualize” responsibility for their violence, shifting the blame to the victim.

“I understand from his statement that he believes that his two physical assaults of the victim were at least partly her fault. That isn’t remorse, and we certainly don’t want a legal system that validates that type of sexist logic,” she said in an email.

But Hrymak also noted that conditional discharges are common in cases where the assailant pleads guilty and doesn’t have a previous record.

Attacker claims ‘all my charges were dropped’

Rahmany, who once promoted himself as “the rapping chiropractor” resigned his chiropractic licence last year while the police investigation was underway.

According to his website, he now coaches “people who are stuck in toxic relationships.” Unlike chiropractors, life coaches are not regulated in B.C., so he no longer has a professional college to consider disciplinary action.

He declined an interview for this story, saying it wouldn’t be appropriate while he and Kroetsch are involved in family court proceedings. He has, however, addressed the criminal proceedings in posts on social media, saying, incorrectly, that “all my charges were dropped today.”

He framed his guilty pleas as “[taking] ownership for my part in a Trauma Bond dynamic that to this day, I’m still trying to break free from.”

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