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Sexual assault trial revolves around massage session

Defence lawyer Glenn Verdurmen is representing a former Vernon man charged with sexually assaulting a young woman.
December 12, 2013 - 12:41 PM

VERNON -  A former Vernon man says he was only trying to comfort a young woman by giving her a massage, but she says it went too far.

The 40-year-old man is accused of sexually assaulting the woman Sept. 22, 2011. Neither can be named to protect the identity of the alleged victim. Both took the witness stand Wednesday to tell their versions of the story.

According to the accused, the young woman was dating a friend’s son around the time of the incident. The accused’s spouse worked for the friend at a Vernon business—where the alleged sexual assault took place—and the two families shared a house.

The man met the complainant several times prior to the incident, and communicated with her via Facebook, he told the court. He described his relationship with her as that of an “extended family uncle.”

The woman was upset on Sept. 22, and the man suggested she come by the shop where he was keeping his wife company as she tended the business. He said the woman was smiling and “jump-hugged” him upon arrival “like what most little girls do.” He asked her if she wanted a massage to help her relax, and led her into the shop’s healing room.

The accused said he performed acupressure and massage on the woman for an hour and a half, hugged her and tried to kiss her on the nose before she left.

“She acted a little funny at that point,” he said, noting she reacted sharply so he didn’t follow through with the kiss.

During her testimony, the woman described a different version of what happened in the massage room. She said the man began to inappropriately massage her private areas, including her vagina. She asked him to “please not” and after he asked for clarification, he stopped, she said.

Defense lawyer Glenn Verdurmen wondered aloud why the woman didn’t immediately go to the police detachment, only a few blocks from the shop. Instead, she went to Polson Park, hung out with friends the rest of the day, and didn’t go to police until finishing school the following day.

“I was scared and... the one thing that was really on my mind was I needed someone to talk to, like a friend.... I couldn’t think at the time,” she said.

Crown counsel Shirley Meldrum and defense lawyers Glenn Verdurmen and Paul Danyliu are scheduled to present their final arguments to Supreme Court Justice Frank Cole Thursday.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.

— This article is based on testimony heard during a portion of Wednesday’s proceedings.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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