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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Snow angels: Revelstokians shovel for those who can’t

‘They’ve helped me make it through the rest of the winter’

Highway 1 closed near Golden for high avalanche danger

DriveBC does not give an estimation for reopening

Syrian family celebrates one year in Revelstoke

Recently, Revelstoke fundraised almost $12,000 to cover the family’s debt to the federal government

Flooding water at West Kelowna Tim Hortons closes lane on Highway 97

This story has been updated with more accurate information. Water flooding from… Continue reading

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

Help sought in developing family practices in South Okanagan and Similkameen

An estimated 15,000 people in region do not have a family doctor

People knowingly take fentanyl so make policy changes to reduce harm: B.C. study

Dr. Jane Buxton, an epidemiologist at the centre, says drug users need more resources,

‘My heart is going to bleed’: Bodies brought back to Canada following Iran plane crash

Remains of Sahar Haghjoo, 37, and her eight-year-old daughter, Elsa Jadidi, were identified last weekend

Animal lovers cautioned against feeding urban deer – even if they beg at the window

Even if the deer press their little faces against your kitchen window… Continue reading

Second earthquake in two days strikes near Agassiz

A 2.6-magnitude recorded Saturday morning

BCLC opens novelty bet on Harry and Meghan moving to the west coast

Meanwhile, real estate agency points to four possible homes for the family

Canada slips in global corruption ranking in aftermath of SNC-Lavalin scandal

The country obtained a score of 77, which places it at the top in the Americas

Most Read