Massage therapist sentenced to jail for sexually assaulting client

A massage therapist who sexually assaulted a woman with the mental capacity of an 11-to-13-year-old will serve time in jail.

Laurie Thompson sentenced to 22 months in jail and two years probation Wednesday

Laurie Thompson, a massage therapist who practised in Eston and Kindersley, has been convicted of sexually assaulting an adult patient who has the mental abilities of an 11-to-13-year-old girl. (Facebook)

A massage therapist who sexually assaulted a woman with the mental capacity of an 11-to-13-year-old will serve time in jail.

A Saskatoon judge sentenced Laurie Thompson, who practised in Kindersley, to 22 months in jail and two years probation Wednesday.

During the trial last year, Thompson admitted he sexually touched the woman about 100 times. 

The incidents happened in his massage therapy office over a period of years.

The 36-year-old woman, who cannot be named because of a publication ban, was a client and family friend.
    
Thompson had testified at the trial that the sexual relations were consensual.
    
However, in September last year, the judge ruled that Thompson was in a position of trust because he knew the victim and her family well.

The judge said he did not consider it a major sexual assault, but he said it was serious.

In the judge's written decision, he also said Thompson was in a position of authority as a massage therapist, despite the defence's arguments that there is no imbalance of power or authority between a massage therapist and a client.

However, according to the defence's lawyer, Kevin Hill, the judge clarified Wednesday that he actually did not believe Thompson to be in a position of authority.

Based on aggravating factors and other cases in Alberta, the crown was asking for seven years jail time.

But Hill argued that a psychologist's assessment of Thompson put him at the lowest possible risk of re-offending.

He said that warranted a lesser sentence and asked for 15 months jail and probation time to follow.

Call for regulating massage therapy

Last October, CBC's iTeam reported that Thompson was still able to practise massage therapy while he awaited sentencing.

At the time, Lori Green, the president of the Massage Therapist Association of Saskatchewan (MTAS), said the case points to why massage therapists have been lobbying the provincial government for regulation.

Green said if MTAS had regulatory powers, it may have been able to launch its own investigation to determine if Thompson's license could be pulled.

In October, Hill said Thompson decided to put his own practice on hold.

On Thursday, Hill told CBC his client will likely never practise again.

"It strikes me as quite unlikely he will have any viable business as a massage therapist going forward and he has no plans to do so."

With files from the CBC's Roxanna Woloshyn and Geoff Leo