A Brighton masseur is on trial for sexually assaulting two of his clients – and his partner is joining him in the dock after allegedly threatening them.
Alex Holman, 57, allegedly assaulted the women in February and November 2018 at the Relax Beauty and Massage salon, which was based in London Road and then in nearby Baker Street.
Holman, formerly of Preston Park Avenue, Brighton, is accused of massaging their breasts and groins, leaving them shocked and upset.
He allegedly told the first woman: “You would be surprised as to what goes on within these four walls.”
After police investigated their complaints, he was charged the following year. But a few months later, his partner Gloria Duran, 47. emailed both the women.
The emails, which were almost identical, said: “I like you to know that if the jury finds Alex no guilty then we were told that we can ask for damages and compensation.
“So much hope we can avoid all of this.”
She also sent the witness statement of the second woman to the first woman, saying that it proved the second woman had “only received a good massage by a man”.
The prosecution say the mention of damages was a threat intended to intimidate them as witnesses, and that sending the witness statement to the first woman was intended to pervert the course of justice.
Summing up the case at Lewes Crown Court this morning, Judge Mark van der Zwart said both women had said they had been left confused and scared by the alleged assaults.
The first woman said when Holman had put his hand inside her pants, she had grabbed his wrist and told him to stop, and had felt his erection against her arm through his trousers.
She said she told him: “You need to be very careful when you are touching a woman in your very powerful position.”
She had also told him she had not given him permission to touch her there.
Judge van der Zwart reminded the jury Holman had denied touching her there and said that conversation had not taken place, nor had had he said she would be surprised what went on there, and she had not complained.
The first woman had gone home and told her partner, who had called up the salon and spoken to Holman, who said he couldn’t discuss anything with him because of data protection.
She had not reported it to police, but her sister informed Treatwell, a beauty treatment booking website she had booked the woman’s appointment through.
The second woman was massaged nine months later at the salon’s new premises in Baker Street, said the first couple of times Holman had touched her groin area, she had thought it was a mistake.
But he went on to touch her there several times, leaving her “scared and very aware she was in the a room with a man who was larger than her.”
She had not complained at the time, as she wanted to leave as quickly as possible, but had messaged her boyfriend to tell him what had happened.
She emailed Treatwell to complain, and two days later, she reported Holman to police.
Treatwell then contacted the first woman and asked her if they could pass her details onto the police, and she agreed. Treatwell stopped listing Relax Beauty and Massage on its website.
The investigation resulted in Holman being charged and after he pleaded not guilty at Brighton Magistrates Court on 13 June 2019, he was committed to Lewes Crown Court where a trial was due to take place on 13 November.
But on 3 November, both the women received an email from Gloria Duran, who said she had just come across their witness statements on the salon’s computer and looked through booking records for their contact details.
She told the court she was “nervous, desperate and scared that something was going to happen to her family”.
She said sent the emails in an attempt to ask “woman to woman” for compassion and for them not to “exaggerate” what had happened to the court – but said she had not intended them to be threatening or intimidating.
As well as the line about avoiding damages and compensation, the emails also said: “We are devastated since the day the police have walked into our salon and took my partner.”
Both women were disturbed that Duran had their email address, and were left feeling worried about what would happen if Holman was acquitted, and emotionally manipulated.
The jury is now considering its verdict.
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