Calling his evidence “implausible,” “untenable” and straining “the bounds of credulity” a Calgary judge has convicted a massage therapist of sexually assaulting 11 of his male clients.
But in acquitting Dennis Baltazar Tuesday on five of the 16 charges he faced, Justice Willie de Wit said the evidence of some of the complainants fell short in proving the accused’s guilt beyond a reasonable double.
In a lengthy and detailed written decision which de Wit complemented with brief oral reasons, the Court of Queen’s Bench found Crown prosecutors Donna Spaner and Sarah Goard-Baker had proven Baltazar’s guilt on the majority of the charges he faced.
In his ruling, de Wit carefully considered the evidence of each of the male clients who testified Baltazar touched their privates inappropriately during massages and the accused’s denials he did anything intentionally sexual.
In considering one of the counts, de Wit noted that he earlier ruled he could consider the similar facts in each allegation when determining whether Baltazar’s claim of accident, or in other incidents complete denials.
“When I consider the similar fact evidence, where the accused has alleged to have made to have made this kind of contact with respect to numerous complainants without noticing, the evidence or Mr. Baltazar becomes even more implausible and is so unlikely that my view (is) his denial does not raise a reasonable doubt,” the judge wrote.
“Mr. Baltazar’s denial that he had no knowledge of making contact with (that complainant’s) genitals on 10 occasions in a short period of time strains the bounds of credulity and is untenable.”
In considering another count de Wit referred to the fact Baltazar said he was unaware he had touched another client’s privates more than ten times.
“Mr. Baltazar’s denial of any knowledge he made contact with (that witness’s) genitals over 10 times in a short period of time becomes completely implausible,” the judge wrote.
“I completely reject Mr. Baltazar’s evidence he did not touch (his) genitals and if he did touch them he did not know he had done so.”
Baltazar was working as a massage therapist in two Calgary sports medicine clinics during the time period of the allegations between Oct. 19, 2017, and Sept. 28, 2018.
At defence lawyer Jennifer Ruttan’s request, counsel has been given a month to review de Wit’s decision and determine whether a presentence report is warranted.
A sentencing date will be set on April 16.
Baltazar remains at liberty pending a sentencing decision.