Unlicensed Blumenort massage therapist found not guilty


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Content warning: The following article contains explicit and sexual language.

An unlicensed massage therapist from Blumenort has been found not guilty of sexually assaulting four women.

Bernhard Unger, 53, was charged last year with five counts of sexual assault on four women between January 2015 and September 2022. During his decision to acquit Unger, Judge Michael Clark said he wasn’t able to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Unger sexually assaulted these women as he couldn’t conclude that there was a sexual purpose in the way that Unger massaged them. He said the women appeared sincere but that while their stories had similarities, there were some inconsistencies.

The first woman went to Unger for back issues she was having in September 2022. She claimed Unger undid her bra while she was fully clothed on the table as he was massaging her. She claimed he rubbed his penis back and forth over her arm and massaged her backside “like someone enjoying your body.”

She also claimed Unger “dabbed” his penis into her hand quickly and that she couldn’t see what was happening as her head was in the head rest of the table; she was going by feel as to what was happening to her. The woman went home later that night and told her husband about the encounter and in October she went to the RCMP.

The second woman went to Unger for a pinched nerve in her back. She said that while on the table she felt Unger’s zipper rubbing on her arm and he also undid her bra to massage her back. She claims at one point she felt his testicles and penis in her hand. She said she didn’t go to the police until she saw an article in the press about a woman being sexually assaulted by Unger. When she realized that she wasn’t the only one she went to the RCMP.

The third woman said she had received massages from Unger 10 to 20 times before and one massage was different from the rest in that he lifted her shirt and undid her bra while she was on the table and that while he was massaging her back he also slid his hands to the side and massaged her breasts but not the nipples. She also said she felt his penis in her hand and when she saw the press online about other women being assaulted, she also went to the police.

The final woman who brought charges against Unger said she was assaulted twice by him. She had visited him about a dozen times for chiropractic work even though she knew he wasn’t a chiropractor. She always saw him with her boyfriend and never had an issue. It wasn’t until she went to the massage without her boyfriend in 2020 that she said Unger put “his crotch by (her) fingers” and his zipper touched her arm. The second time she went again without her boyfriend was in May 2022, she said Unger started to massage her under her underwear and touched her vagina. She also saw online media reports of Unger’s assaults on women and then decided to go to the RCMP.

One of the inconsistencies the judge cited was with the fourth woman’s testimony. She told the police that Unger didn’t touch her vagina but in court she said he had and when asked why she went back a second time she said she was giving Unger “the benefit of the doubt” regarding the first massage. The fact that the women didn’t see Unger rubbing his crotch on their bodies and went by feel and that the Crown couldn’t prove that it was for a sexual purpose led to doubt for Clark. The question of a penis being put into the hand was only brought up after the police asked about it happening. The touching of the breast by the third woman was admitted in her testimony to not be a fondle but was consistent to a massage and that Unger didn’t touch her nipple also added doubt for Clark.

“The phrase beyond a reasonable doubt is very important to our criminal justice system. It is said that reasonable doubt is not imaginary, farfetched or frivolous doubt. It is not a doubt based on sympathy or prejudice against anyone involved in this trial. It is a doubt based on reason and common sense and it is doubt that logically arises from the evidence or the absence or lack of evidence,” said Clark.

“The massage in and of itself is a physical thing. Bodies are being touched, both bodies are moving, there’s a fluidity of movement, and inadvertent touching is no doubt possible and consent is a fluid thing as well…The fact that it’s four women with similar stories could lead to the conclusion that the touching was for a sexual purpose, but in my mind it’s just as likely that it could have happened with a technique that Mr. Unger was using caused the inferred touching…Mr. Unger’s testimony was compelling enough for me to find reasonable doubt. He was consistent in his denials and he was not impeached in any meaningful way such that his credibility is called into question…The women’s testimony had minor inconsistencies which caused minor issues with reliability,” said Clark.

“I want to be clear that I’m not saying I do not believe these women who made these allegations. It may be that the touching happened as they described, save except for the naked penis, however it’s just that I cannot find on the evidence that these touches were for a sexual purpose and that the Crown has proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” he added.

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