A spa therapist who sexually assaulted four women during massages was jailed yesterday for six years. Batini Mpofu, 32, groped three guests and a staff member in sessions at Ragdale Hall, a £200-a-night converted country house in Leicestershire.
His trial heard that when one 27-year-old victim complained she was ‘fobbed off’ with a voucher for a free massage. He offered one woman a ‘taster’ of a full body massage before pushing her knickers aside and touching her intimately, and told another victim: ‘You love being touched. I can see it on your face.’
When the woman, 27, told Mpofu she was staying at the hotel with her boyfriend the masseur replied: ‘If your boyfriend could see me doing this to you he wouldn’t be very happy.’
A trial last month heard that when the woman complained to managers at Ragdale Hall in Leicestershire, voted best ‘destination spa’ in Europe three years ago, she was ‘fobbed off’ with a voucher for a free massage as compensation.
She told the jury: ‘The way I felt, I didn’t want another massage. I never took it up’. The woman later wrote to complain but the hotel wrote back claiming the incident had been ‘an unfortunate misunderstanding.’
A jury took less than an hour to convict him of five counts of sexual assault after hearing how the three guests and a female staff member gave similar accounts of their ordeals, even though none of them knew each other.
One of the women said Mpofu, a Zimbabwean who was granted asylum in the UK, that he was in an ‘obvious’ aroused state after he touched her intimately and told he she was ‘very toned’.
He was arrested when the woman called police from the hotel, which is set in a refurbished stately home and boasts an underwater gym and volcanic salt bath, to report the assault.
Jailing him at Northampton Crown Court today, Judge Charles Wide QC told Mpofu: ‘This was a serious breach of trust. ‘You were in a professional relationship with your clients. You should have behaved professionally and they were entitled to trust you to do so but you broke that trust.
‘They were in a very vulnerable situation alone in a room with a massage therapist and you abused that position and did so repeatedly.’
The judge said the case ‘raised the question’ of whether procedures at Ragdale Hall provided sufficient safeguards for clients who were being intimately massaged. He also questioned the spa’s procedures for dealing with complaints from clients.
The trial heard his third victim, the member of staff, told a supervisor how Mpofu slid his hands into her trousers whilst massaging her during a break in her shift, but didn’t think she had been believed.
She told the jury at the Leicester Crown Court trial: ‘When I told her (the supervisor) she just said ‘ Are you sure?’ then asked if he fancied me.
Today the court was told that a fifth alleged victim had come forward after reading newspaper coverage of the trial. Vanessa Marshall, prosecuting, said Mpofu was expected to face a further charge in relation to the fifth woman next Monday.
The perverted therapist, whose partner attended the sentencing hearing yesterday and is believed to be standing by him, was also given a Sexual Offences Prevention Order banning him from working as a therapist in the future.
Mpofu, of Western Park, Leicester, had denied five counts of sexual assault between July 2007 and September 2008. The chairman of Ragdale Hall Michael Isaacs apologised following the conviction and said: ‘Batini Mpofu abused the trust placed in him by guests and colleagues alike.
Source with images.
National; Front 2010