Woman testifies N.S. massage therapist grinded against her

A woman testified Thursday in Shubenacadie provincial court that during an appointment with massage therapist Martin Huybers, he touched her buttock sexually with his pelvis.

Huybers of Upper Nine Mile River, N.S., has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of sexual assault involving eight women.

The 53-year-old’s trial began Thursday morning. So far, one of the complainants has testified about an alleged incident on July 3, 2014.

The woman told the court she had booked separate massages for herself and her daughter at Strides Spa & Wellness Centre in Elmsdale. Though she recognized Huybers from the gym, it was the first time going to him for a massage.

The woman, whose name is protected by a publication ban, told the court that while Huybers was massaging her neck and shoulders, she felt his pelvis start thrusting back and forth against her left buttock. At the time, she was face down on a massage table and wearing only underwear.

‘Was this really happening to me?’

“I was dumbfounded. I did not expect this. It did not fit with my normal reality. I was trying to think, ‘Was this really happening to me?” she told the court.

The woman said she thought about leaving, but didn’t want to burst into the reception area wearing only her underwear. She estimates the grinding and rubbing stopped after about five minutes and then the massage continued.

“When you’re in a very vulnerable position like that, it’s hard to judge time when you’re feeling that threatened,” she said.

“I was pretty much in shock. I’m not used to confrontation. If I had been a more assertive person, I probably would’ve said quite a few things to Mr. Huybers.”

The woman told the court that when her adult children came over for dinner that evening, she told them about the “very strange” massage to warn them not to go to the spa.

She said she was hesitant to speak out and damage someone’s reputation in a small community, but later she went to RCMP after hearing they were investigating Huybers after he was charged with sexually assaulting someone else.

Huybers’s behaviour was ‘just plain wrong,’ says complainant

Under cross-examination, the complainant was adamant that even though she couldn’t see what was happening, the thrusting was sexual.

Defence lawyer Mark Knox questioned the woman about the clarity of her memory of the 2014 incident and suggested when she went to police, she was questioning whether the thrust she felt could have been a misunderstanding.

The woman said that during the first few seconds she was wondering and then “after that it was just plain wrong.”

“I’m confident I’m telling the truth,” she told the court. “There was absolutely no way it was an accident.”

Since being charged, Huybers has been able to continue working as a massage therapist, provided he does not see female clients alone. (Robert Short/CBC)

Knox also suggested the woman returned later in July 2014 for a follow-up treatment with Huybers. The complainant denied this.

The defence wants to introduce a Blue Cross receipt from later in July 2014. Crown prosecutor Alicia Kennedy told the court she hadn’t heard of the receipt prior to Knox’s question.

As the receipt may include personal health information, Judge Catherine Benton agreed to schedule a separate hearing to evaluate its admissibility in February.

The case has been adjourned until Nov. 14, at which time several other complainants are expected to begin testifying.

After that, the trial is scheduled to continue in April 2020.

Charges first laid in July 2018

Huybers was first charged with three counts of sexual assault in July 2018 and then with another six counts in September 2018. An eighth woman came forward earlier this year.

While he awaited trial, Huybers was able to continue working provided he abided by a court order to only see female clients with supervision.

Besides the alleged July 3, 2014, incident, the others cover an eight-month period between April 1, 2016, and Jan. 2, 2017.

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