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Collingwood-area massage therapist convicted of sexually assaulting client

'At no time could the defendant have believed that (the woman) had given her consent... It was for the defendant’s sexual gratification,' judge says in decision
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Editor's note: The following story contains graphic details about sexual assault that may be disturbing to some readers. 

A 40-year-old Collingwood-area man has been convicted of sexually assaulting a massage therapy client who was attending a girls’ weekend in The Blue Mountains.

Nathaniel Porter-Gowan was working as a massage therapist at a business in The Blue Mountains on May 25, 2019 when a group of women came in for massages. 

After the massage, the client he was assigned went to police to report that she had been sexually assaulted and abruptly ended her weekend, according to court documents.

Justice Julia Morneau found although the massage began professionally, it degraded into unacceptable touching.

According to the judge’s written decision from Nov. 19, the client felt something was off when Porter-Gowan sat on a stool behind her head, took her hair out of its bun and began tugging on it. He then placed her hands in his lap and didn’t fix the sheet when it fell off her breasts.

According to the decision, she began to cry when he started to play with her belly button ring.

After wiping her tears, he ran his hands over her body, touched her breasts, twisted her nipples, and then put his hands into her underwear.

“I am left in no doubt that (the woman) had not and did not give her consent to a breast massage or any touching of her breasts,” the judge wrote in her decision. “At no time could the defendant have believed that (the woman) had given her consent... It was for the defendant’s sexual gratification.”

Morneau dismissed the defence of honest but mistaken belief in communicated consent, adding that it was unreasonable for him to massage her breasts without explicitly asking permission to do so. 

Porter-Gowan's lawyer declined comment.

In December 2019, the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario put Porter-Gowan on probation with strict conditions. His licence lapsed last January as a result of nonpayment of fees, according to the college's website. 

“We are monitoring the court matter and also co-operating with Collingwood and The Blue Mountains OPP,” Angie Brennand, director of policy and communications for the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario, indicated via email. 

On Dec. 13, 2019, the college’s inquiries, complaints and reports committee imposed an order forbidding Porter-Gowan from being self-employed or providing home-based care and allowed him to practise massage therapy only in a clinic-setting with another regulated and acceptable health professional.

The order required clients be asked to sign an acknowledgement and consent form indicating that they were aware about his investigation by the college.

Porter-Gowan was also required to visibly display a sign advising of the college’s investigations in a highly visible area of the waiting room of any of his practice locations.

Porter-Gowan received his massage therapy education for entry to practice at the now-defunct Everest College of Business, Technology and Health Care Barrie on Dec. 14, 2012.

He is scheduled to return to court in Owen Sound on Dec. 10.

About the Author: Marg. Bruineman

Marg. Buineman is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering justice issues based out of BarrieToday. The LJI is funded by the government of Canada
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