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

Mix of sun and cloud for the Okanagan-Similkameen Shuswap

Chance of showers for much of the region this afternoon

Lakestone community unveiled in Lake Country

Mayor Baker, MLA Norm Letnick and MP Stephen Fuhr joined in the ceremonial opening

Okanagan-Shuswap Weather: Summer sun for Sunday

The forecast for the week ahead shows some rain but plenty of sun and warm tempertures.

Update: Structure fire reported in Kelowna industrial area put out

A structure fire was reported just after 3:30 p.m. off Sexsmith Road

July showers wash out half of the Okanagan’s cherry crop

Cherry growers say this is the worst season they’ve seen in decades

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

Water quality makes swimming unsafe at three beaches near Salmon Arm

The Adams Lake Indian Band has issued a water qulity notice affecting beaches at three campgrounds.

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Second osprey chick dies, Okanagan web cam off

The second chick in an osprey nest featured on the Town of Osoyoos website has died

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

Fire department helps with body recovery in Okanagan Lake

Penticton fire department assisted the RCMP with the recovery of a body Saturday

Police on scene at Penticton beach

RCMP were at a what is believed to be a crime scene near Skaha Beach Sunday

Most Read