Police arrested and interviewed 66-year-old John Heintzelman, who had been running a massage studio out of his Victoria home, after a women filed a police report claiming she had been sexually assaulted by Heintzelman during a massage appointment. (Pixabay photo)

B.C. massage therapist acquitted of sexual assault

Judge unable to decide whom to believe, was ‘obliged to acquit Heintzelman’

A Victoria massage therapist has been acquitted of two counts of sexual assault after the judge was unable to decide whom to believe, the alleged victims, or the alleged attacker.

Police arrested and interviewed 66-year-old John Heintzelman on July 9, 2017, after a woman filed a police report claiming she had been sexually assaulted by Heintzelman during a massage appointment at his unlicensed Victoria home studio.

The Victoria Police Department published a post on Facebook on Oct. 20, 2017, with details about the case to seek additional victims.

RELATED: Rogue masseur arrested for sexual assault in Victoria

After seeing the police notice on Facebook on the day that it was posted, a second woman contacted the police with a complaint of sexual assault against Heintzelman that allegedly occurred in 2013.

“I suppressed it right away. I was worried that I would not be believed because of my mental health issues,” the woman said in a statement to police on Nov. 2, 2017, answering the question to why she hadn’t reported the incident sooner.

Heintzelman denied that he touched either complainant in a sexual way.

In court, each of the witnesses “presented as eminently credible,” with Crown counsel submitting that, by reason of the similarity of their accounts, the evidence of each complainant is corroborative of the other.

However, provincial court Judge Ted Gouge ruled that the Facebook post the Victoria police had published to seek additional witnesses, tainted the ability to test the veracity of the second complaint that came forward. The post had included Heintzelman’s name and the address where the assault took place, things the police could have used in questioning to corroborate the accounts.

ALSO READ: More people come forward in Victoria sexual assault investigation

The judge also warned police that the publication of a notice containing the name of the suspect could prejudice the right of the accused to a fair trial, particularly where the accused elects trial by jury and may also unfairly damage the reputation and livelihood of the suspect if the allegation is unfounded.

After a careful consideration of all of the evidence, Judge Gouge ruled on Dec. 20 that he found himself in a position where he was unable to decide whom to believe, so was “obliged to acquit Mr. Heintzelman.”


 

keri.coles@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Come celebrate Canada’s Day in Princeton

Golf, parades and movies in the park are on the schedule

Princeton beautification project stalled

The city says new statues and gateways won’t arrive by Canada’s Day

Severe thunderstorm watch issued for Okanagan and Connector

Storms expected to develop this morning and intensify early in the afternoon

Chilliwack man charged in crash that killed Kelowna pregnant woman

Frank Tessman charged for 2018 Highway 1 accident where Kelowna elementary school teacher died

B.C. premier says Greyhound replacement news could come shortly

Province is working with the private sector to find a solution, says premier

Suspicious Rutland car fire has one woman thinking it may have been targeted

A family who raised their voice against the McCurdy Road house has car torched, is it connected?

Still months of investigation left into South Okanagan murders

Penticton came to a standstill on April 15, when John Brittain allegedly shot and killed four people

Vernon Judo coach pleads guilty to child pornography charges

Bryan Jeffrey McLachlan is set to return to court Sept. 4 for sentencing

Olympic skier from B.C. suing Alpine Canada after coach’s sex offences

Bertrand Charest was convicted in 2017 on 37 charges

Action imperative on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Chief commissioner into national inquiry encourages governments, private sector to act

B.C. senior’s car vandalized for more than 18 months

Retired RCMP officer determined to catch ‘tagger.’

VIDEO: Driver doing laps in busy Vancouver intersections nets charges

Toyota Camry spotted doing laps in intersection, driving towards pedestrians

COLUMN: Imagine the possibilities at the library

Programs at Summerland Library promote reading among children

Summerland Orca Swim Club holds fundraising events

Proceeds benefit swimmer with rare kidney disease

Most Read