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Vernon massage therapist guilty of sexual assault won't get a criminal record

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A Vernon massage therapist convicted of sexually assaulting a client he had become friends with will not get a criminal record.

At the Vernon courthouse Sept. 21, B.C. Provincial Court Judge Richard Hewson sentenced former massage therapist Daniel Edward Guy Dakin to 18 months probation and a conditional discharge. The sentence means he will not have a criminal record providing he doesn't breach the terms of his probation.

Dakin had earlier pleaded guilty to one charge of sexually assaulting a client who he was massaging in 2020.

One of the clear factors in the judge's sentence was the fact Dakin had "real" remorse for his crime.

"He is disgusted with his own conduct... he wanted to punish himself for what he did," Judge Hewson said.

The judge said that remorse is something that is often spoken of but rarely seen in criminal courtrooms.

"Many times what is described as remorse is an offender's regret, finally having to face the consequences of their conduct," the judge said.

However, Judge Hewson said when real remorse is found to be present it should be a significant mitigating factor in an offender's sentence.

At an earlier court appearance, Dakin broke down in tears saying he hated himself for what he had done.

The court heard how the 53-year-old had gone back to study massage in 2018 and had met the client when he was a student.

Dakin gave the woman – whose name is covered under a court-ordered publication ban – massages for free as part of his college course.

Once he graduated he continued to give the woman free monthly massages. He wanted the experience and the two had become friends.

Then during a massage in February 2020 Dakin reached under the sheet and stroked the woman's breast during a massage.

"His purpose was sexual, not therapeutic," the judge told the court.

Dakin immediately apologized and the woman was left feeling "dismayed" and "violated."

Dakin's lawyer described the sexual assault as a momentary lapse of judgment as the two had become friends and the boundaries had started to blur.

Several months later the woman contacted Dakin on Facebook Messenger and told him how much he had traumatized her.

The woman is disabled and needs massages for her health, but has not been able to have a massage since.

"What is clear from her side of those conversations is her distress and feeling of violation, what is clear from his side of those conversations is his severe remorse and unreserved acceptance for responsibility for his actions," the judge said.

A year later Dakin quit practicing massage therapy and resigned his licence with the regulator.

The woman then went to the RCMP and Dakin was arrested.

The court heard how the 53-year-old had been married for 32 years and met his wife while at bible college.

Following his arrest, they separated, although have since reconciled.

Crown prosecutors argued for six months of house arrest, while the defence asked for a conditional discharge.

In handing out the sentence, Judge Hewson highlighted that Dakin had genuine remorse and had taken action straight after the offence.

He'd started having counselling and resigned his massage therapist licence long before he was charged.

A letter from his counsellor said Dakin felt an intense feeling of guilt, remorse, self-loathing, self-hatred and shame.

The judge said the sentence should not be contrary to the public interest.

"Given the circumstances of this offence and this offender's real remorse, it is in the public's interest to impose a sentence that prioritizes an acceptance of that remorse," Judge Hewson said.

READ MORE: Penticton massage therapist committed multiple acts of sexual misconduct

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