A massage therapist convicted of sexually assaulting his client during a massage in The Blue Mountains should go to jail for nine months, the Crown attorney suggested during a virtual sentence hearing Wednesday.
But the defence lawyer asked for house arrest of up to 18 months, instead.
Nathaniel Porter-Gowan, 40, was earlier convicted in an Owen Sound court of sexually assaulting the woman during a massage on May 25, 2019, while the woman was on a girls’ weekend.
Reading from her victim impact statement, Crown attorney Glenn Brotherston said she has had trouble coping with various facets of her life in the intervening 20 months. She also feared repercussions after he had taken her personal contact information.
“Since the event, I have been unable to receive any type of care from male providers,” he read. “I have spent the last 606 days working on recovery.”
She wrote that she’s afraid to be by herself in the house or walk the dog alone and that the massage therapist robbed her of her enjoyment of her first year of marriage.
Brotherston said an aggravating factor is that Porter-Gowan was in a position of trust as a massage therapist during the event.
“It occurred at the hands of someone who is a licensed health-care practitioner,” said the prosecutor, adding that incarceration should be followed by two years of probation. “A real jail sentence is called for.”
But defence attorney Nadia Klein said Porter-Gowan has no record and instead suggested a conditional sentence with house arrest.
“Everything suggests this was a one-off occurrence in the life of Mr. Porter-Gowan,” she said.
She said the father of two has been very active in his children’s lives and the community, but has been ostracized as a result of the charge. He can no longer work as a massage therapist and had trouble finding work, at one point going to the Meaford food bank, where he previously volunteered, for help. He was later able to find a job as a waiter.
Going to jail would impact his children, she told the court. And he feared he would lose contact with one of the children who he co-parents.
Klein said there was also concern over any possible future COVID-19 outbreaks at the Central North Correctional Centre, although the latest word the court had was that there were no positive cases at the Penetanguishene jail.
Justice Julia A. Morneau, of the Ontario Court of Justice, reserved her decision on sentencing and the case returns to court Jan. 28 to set a date.
Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com