Masseur denies indecent touching of woman

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 17:25 01/07/2014

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A masseur accused of indecently assaulting a woman during a massage session has gone on trial in the Christchurch District Court on two charges of indecent assault.

The 43-year-old masseur denies any indecencies took place, and pleaded not guilty at the start of the two-day trial before Judge Jane Farish and a jury. His name is suppressed, but the order will be reviewed at the end of the trial.

Crown prosecutor Marcus Elliott said the woman had received a massage from the man at a Christchurch clinic in November 2012, and returned a week later to receive a complimentary massage.

She undressed to her underpants and wrapped a towel around her. The towel was used to cover areas that were not to be massaged.

She would tell the trial that the massage began with her lying on her front, but when she then rolled onto her back, the man had massaged her head, neck, chest and stomach, Elliott said.

"During this, he also moved his hands across her breasts."

The masseur then moved his hands up to her groin and indecently assaulted her, the Crown alleged.

The massage finished soon after.

Defence counsel Michael Starling said the man had come to New Zealand to work and bring his family here. He had trained overseas as an engineer, and as a masseur.

When the masseur was interviewed by the police, he had denied the allegations, "and he maintains his innocence today".

The woman said in evidence that she was trained in massage therapy and had received about 100 massages herself.

When the man had touched her breasts beneath a towel, she had tried to justify it to herself "as a massage technique" but she believed that area had no clinical benefit for massage. She did not say anything about it when it happened, but the massage made her feel odd and uncomfortable.

"It was not part of any massage I have had before," she said.

When she felt the masseur's hand go inside her underpants and touch her, she immediately coughed and said, "Excuse me?" and the masseur immediately stopped the massage.

She told her husband about the incident that day, and complained to the manager of the clinic by email.

Cross-examined by Starling, she accepted that "culturally there are big differences in what people do in massages".

The trial is continuing.

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