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

UPDATE: Destructive blaze in West Kelowna

A unit of a condo complex is on fire in West Kelowna

Okanagan College to develop wellness strategy for drug use

The Kelowna campus has 28 employees trained in the use of naloxone.

UPDATE: Highway 97 now open at Drought Hill

A collision near Peachland has caused a backup in traffic on Highway 97

Homeless Osoyoos man allegedly doused in ice water while he slept

Community outraged at treatment of well-known homeless community member

Tips to keep your home safe during wildfire season

With wildfire season getting closer, the Penticton Fire Dept. offer tips to keep your home safe

Protective human chain forms around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Pet Planet picks up Okanagan’s cannabis for pets

True Leaf Medicine International expands retail distribution to 3,500 stores worldwide

AquaVan comes to Okanagan Science Centre

200-litre mobile touch tank allows you to get up-close with marine invertebrates

Army of support behind Black Press saleswoman battling cancer

GoFundMe helps empower Sue Folliott’s fight

Boy who went missing from park remains largest probe in Victoria police history

The four-year old Victoria boy went missing without a trace on March 24, 1991

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

No joke: Kelowna’s first zero-waste grocery store to open April 1

Farm Bound Zero Waste has announced its opening date

Motorcyclist dies after three-vehicle crash on old Island Highway

Accident happened at 12:15 p.m. Friday near Country Club Centre in Nanaimo

Most Read