Basalt massage therapist faces 15 charges over alleged incidents with 8 clients
Alleged sexual contact goes back to 2015, according to district attorney
A Basalt massage therapist who was arrested Nov. 24 on suspicion of sexual assault on a client now is facing 15 charges for alleged unlawful actions with eight victims.
The 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office has filed one count of sexual assault, seven counts of unlawful sexual contact and seven counts of invasion of privacy against Nathaniel D. Gordon, 47, of New Castle.
“This continues to be an ongoing investigation and we will follow up with any and all leads,” District Attorney Heidi McCollum said Wednesday.
The DA’s office released a statement shortly after Gordon’s November arrest urging anyone with knowledge of the alleged crime or similar incidents to contact the office or the Basalt Police Department. McCollum said other alleged victims contacted authorities and provided information that resulted in the additional charges.
Response, a nonprofit organization that works with victims of domestic and sexual abuse in the Roaring Fork Valley, is working with 11 women who have alleged inappropriate conduct by Gordon, according to Response executive director Shannon Meyer. Many of them have been referred to the agency by the Basalt Police Department, she said.
Seven of the women are involved in the legal process while four are not, Meyer said.
The alleged incidents go back to 2015, McCollum said. All of the alleged victims are females, she said.
The one sexual assault charge and seven unlawful sexual contact charges are fourth-degree felonies. The seven invasion of privacy charges are second-degree misdemeanors.
Gordon has hired Glenwood Springs attorney Sherry Caloia to represent him. The Aspen Times could not reach her Wednesday.
Eagle County Judge Rachel Olquin-Fresquez advised Gordon on Nov. 29 that conviction of the sexual assault charge could result in a sentence of 4 to 12 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections.
The DA’s complaint, a document that outlines the charges, and an affidavit in support of a warrantless arrest filed by the Basalt Police Department were sealed and previously could not be viewed by the public to protect the identities of the alleged victims. The redacted documents were released Wednesday.
The arrest warrant said the initial alleged victim contacted the Basalt Police Department on Nov. 23 and was interviewed that day. The woman said she was seeking treatment, including massage, after being injured in a car accident. She had visited Gordon at the WIN Institute in Basalt four or five times prior to Nov. 22. On the November visit, she “immediately noticed something very different,” according to her statement to police. Gordon had placed a sheet on top of her rather than the usual draping covers, she said.
“(Name redacted) said there were multiple times that (she) felt like Mr. Gordon was massaging (her) in a way to make the sheet come off of (her) body,” according to the arrest warrant. She said she reached down multiple times to pull the sheet back over (her) private areas because (she) was uncomfortable.
The alleged victim said Gordon “kept lifting (her) leg high in the air to expose (her) vaginal area” and he focused on massaging around that area. She told the police officer she kept asking herself “if this was a normal massage.”
After an hour, Gordon asked if he could extend the session by 30 minutes and she agreed because he hadn’t worked on her neck, as requested. After a short time of working on her neck, she alleged Gordon digitally penetrated her vagina and attempted on another body part and she objected.
She told the officer Gordon tried to keep her vaginal area exposed for the entire 30 minutes at the end of the session. He had never done that in prior visits, she said. She also went into detail during the police interview on how Gordon tried to forcefully place his hands on her private parts a second time during the massage, according to the affidavit.
“(Name redacted) told me that when the massage was over, Mr. Gordon sat on the massage table and grabbed (her) hand and placed it on his thigh near his groin,” the affidavit said. “He asked (her) how (she) felt about the massage. He told (her) it was good for him.”
The alleged victim told the interviewing officer she “froze” during the massage and felt she couldn’t say anything. The officer wrote in the affidavit that the woman became very emotional while explaining to him what happened. The woman later contacted a therapist who told her another client of the therapist had allegedly reported a similar experience with Gordon.
The alleged victim told the police officer she “did not want this to happen to anyone else ever again.”
The police officer called Gordon at the WIN Institute the next day and he came in a short time later. He told the officer he had been practicing for 20 years and specialized in injury recovery. He said he was nationally certified and holds a Colorado massage therapy license, which the officer confirmed.
The officer said he asked him about his work. “He said his work is a bit unorthodox,” the affidavit said. “He told me, unprompted, that he sometimes rubs people the wrong way. He said if people could make it through the first massage, they became a permanent client.”
Gordon said he had done over 16,000 massages and goes by the “80-10-10 rule,” the affidavit continued. “He said 80% of the people love what he does, 10% will never be happy and another 10% say it was the worst thing they have ever been through.”
When the officer asked about the appointment with the alleged victim, Gordon told him “it was just like all the other massages he has given (her),” the affidavit continued. The woman had asked for attention to her hip area, Gordon told the officer.
The officer went over details of the alleged victim’s complaint and Gordon replied that he does nothing sexual as part of his massage.
“Mr. Gordon told me he would just like to communicate directly with (the woman),” the affidavit said. “He assured me that he would be able to work everything out if he was able to talk to (name redacted).”
The officer explained that he was legally prohibited from contacting her.
“He told me that (name redacted) told him the massage was good and (she) even scheduled additional appointments,” the affidavit states.
The stories of Gordon and the alleged victim differed on how many other people were in other areas of the clinic at the time.
At the conclusion of the interview at Basalt Police Department, Gordon was placed under arrest and taken to Eagle County Jail. He later bonded out.
He is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing Jan. 25.
The nonprofit Response provides services depending on individual needs, according to staff advocate Hannah Horn. Services can range from arranging counseling to advocacy in the legal system, she said.
Meyer said any other alleged victims are urged to contact Response regardless of whether they are involved in the legal case.
A civil deputy kept her job and was mandated to undergo counseling after Aspen police arrested her in July on suspicion of driving under the influence and reckless driving.