Masseur acquitted on assault charge
A Garfield County jury found former masseur Gordon Thomas not guilty Wednesday of second-degree sexual assault.
Thomas, 46, was accused of penetrating a 19-year-old Carbondale woman with a finger while giving her a massage on Jan. 5, 1999, at the Yampah Hot Springs Vapor Caves in Glenwood Springs.
“The jury in no way meant to impugn the character or credibility of that young woman,” said Robin Garvik of Carbondale, jury foreman.
“But the state didn’t give us the tools to serve her justice. We just didn’t have the information we needed to deliver a conviction in this case,” Garvik said.
Because the victim did not object during the incident, and did not immediately report it to police, the trial became a “he said, she said” argument.
Both Thomas and the victim took the stand to testify, as did other friends, Thomas’ former employer at the Vapor Caves, other longtime massage clients, and an expert on the psychological effects of sexual assault.
Garvik said the jury, which deliberated for four hours at the close of the three-day trial, had a long discussion about the difference between “innocent” and “not guilty.”
“Something may have happened to this woman, but we don’t know exactly what and we don’t know exactly where,” Garvik said.
Defense attorney Fred Gannett conceded that the victim believes she was “violated in a sexual manner,” quoting her testimony.
But he raised doubts about the accuracy of her memory and her perception of the incident.
“When we probe her on that memory, we get a sense of hesitation of what that event was. Was she uncertain about what occurred?” Gannett asked the jury.
He also argued that victim assumed Thomas was experiencing sexual gratification because of his heavy breathing and shaky hands.
But Gannett noted that Thomas is “woefully out of shape and verging on obese,” and said the exertion of giving a massage caused his shortness of breath and shaking.
Asking the jury to “draw on your life experiences,” he argued that without the victim’s cooperation, such penetration would have been difficult.
Deputy District Attorney Bob Weiner made a strenuous argument in seeking a conviction against Thomas, who had a clean record until this accusation surfaced.
“He violated her trust, he violated her person and he violated the professional standards he was supposed to uphold,” Weiner told the jury.
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