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B.C. man who posed as massage therapist used social media to 'target' women he sexually assaulted, court hears

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A B.C. man who sexually assaulted 12 women while posing as a masseur has been sentenced to two years in prison, with the judge describing him as a "calculating, committed, long term, serial sexual predator."

Reinhard "Bud" Loewen was originally charged with 24 offences, but pleaded guilty to six counts of sexual assault earlier this year. His sentence was handed down in Abbotsford last month, and the decision was posted online Tuesday.

THE CRIMES

The assaults happened over a period of roughly two years while Loewen – who has never been trained or registered as a massage therapist – was operating a business he called Bud's Massage Therapy.

"They occurred under the guise of massage therapy sessions which targeted women, often pregnant women, with social media and other offers of discount or free sessions and services," Justice Ian Caldwell's decision says.

"Mr. Loewen used a position of trust. That trust was associated with the very role of a massage therapist. It was coupled with a location of isolation and an imposed or encouraged position of unclothed vulnerability to touch and impose himself on the complainants in a sexual manner and without their consent."

Loewen's only training, the court heard, was a one-week course on massage. Nevertheless, after completing it, he opened the business in the basement suite of a home and began advertising online.

The sentencing decision provides details of the assaults on all 12 women, describing how Loewen touched their vaginas – in many cases under their underwear, in many cases after they had explicitly told him to stop. 

In victim impact statements, some women described how Loewen's crimes had affected them, stressing how vulnerable they were, how violated they felt, and how the assaults continued to impact their lives.

THE OFFENDER

The court heard that Loewen, 59, has no criminal record and is a "successful" business man who has now retired. He is also a husband, father and grandfather who is active in his church and community.

"He contributes regularly to the Abbotsford food bank, to local pregnancy centres, and international charitable works in countries such as Uganda, Peru, and Brazil. He has travelled to these countries to further support such work. He has been and continues to be active in church-based men's groups, focused on, among other things, social issues, personal issues, and accountability," the decision said, noting that 30 "character references" were submitted to the court that described Loewen as "a generous, selfless, true leader and a man of great faith and great integrity."

A risk assessment done as part of the sentencing process classified Loewen's likelihood of re-offending as "moderate." While he expressed remorse and willingness to change, he also had "difficulty accepting full responsibility for his behaviour," the decision said.

"He indicates that he is upset that all of the focus has been on what he has done wrong, not on the positive things that he has done in his community," it continues.

THE SENTENCE

The defence was asking for a conditional sentence of 18 to 24 months of house arrest while the Crown sought two years in prison.

Caldwell, finding that incarceration was warranted in the case, emphasized the deliberate and repeated nature of the crimes and the vulnerability of the victims.

"He sexually assaulted them, sometimes repeatedly over the course of a session, and often in the face of their spoken and/or physically exhibited protests and directions to him that he stop. He continued this practice over the course of two years. It is clear those women suffered emotional and psychological injury as a result of his actions," the judge wrote.

"These are the actions of a calculating, committed, long-term, serial sexual predator."

The two-year prison sentence will be followed by three years of probation. When he is released from prison, he has been ordered to take down any and all online posts in which he offers massage services or refers to massage therapy.

During his probationary period, Loewen will be prohibited from advertising any massage or "body manipulation" services and can not work anywhere where these services are provided. He will also not be allowed to get a massage unless he tells the therapist about his convictions and has another male present during the treatment.

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