26 April 2024

Civic masseur jailed after indecently assaulting client during massage

| Albert McKnight
man leaving court

Timothy Van Eyle leaves the ACT Courts after being found guilty of an act of indecency without consent in 2021. Photo: Albert McKnight.

CONTENT WARNING: This article refers to an indecent assault.

A masseur who abused the trust placed in him when he indecently assaulted a vulnerable client during a massage will spend the next two months in jail before he is released.

Timothy Van Eyle was convicted and sentenced to a total of 10 months’ jail, to be suspended after he served two months, by the ACT Magistrates Court on Friday (26 April).

“A person in such a vulnerable position relies on their belief that a masseur will act in a professional manner,” Magistrate Jane Campbell said when sentencing the 31-year-old.

It was the end of a long-running legal saga that spanned years, for while he committed his crime in 2019 and was found guilty of committing an act of indecency without consent in 2021, a number of appeals delayed his sentencing.

He was 26 and had only been practising as a masseur for two weeks when a woman went into his Civic workplace for a massage.

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After the massage started, the woman said he asked her something like, “Do you want me to do the rest of your chest?” while he claimed he said, “Do you want me to massage your whole chest?”

Van Eyle then pulled down the sheet that covered her body and deliberately touched her breasts for about five minutes. He didn’t pull the sheet back up and left her breasts exposed for the rest of the massage, which was about 10 minutes.

Timothy Van Eyle, pictured here in 2021, will spend two months in custody. Photo: Albert McKnight.

Magistrate Campbell said the woman had placed her trust in Van Eyle to give her a massage, but he abused that trust. She was in a vulnerable position and wearing an eye mask so she couldn’t see him.

The magistrate said the woman felt confused and uncomfortable when he started touching her that way. When she left the clinic, she started crying and felt violated.

Magistrate Campbell found Van Eyle had touched the woman for the purpose of sexual gratification.

She said there had been no other allegations against Van Eyle and that he had not committed any other offences since that incident.

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He still works at the same massage clinic, even though his employer knows about his charge.

He has continued denying the offending, citing miscommunication between himself and his victim. But the author of a court report says he has since learned not to use ambiguous language.

Magistrate Campbell said he was unlikely to reoffend in this way again but also that a strong message needed to be sent to members of therapeutic workplaces about this type of offending.

Van Eyle will be released from custody in June 2024 and must comply with a good behaviour order for 12 months.

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