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Crown wants 2 years for Abbotsford masseur who sexually assaulted 12 women

Defence recommends conditional sentence for Reinhard ‘Bud’ Loewen
A sentencing hearing began Friday (July 22) for Reinhard “Bud” Loewen for six charges of sexual assault related to when he was purporting to be a massage therapist. (Facebook photo)

Warning: This story contains disturbing details that could be upsetting to some readers.

An Abbotsford man who posed as a massage therapist despite having only one week of training should receive two years in jail and three years’ probation for sexually touching some of his clients, a Crown lawyer said Friday at his sentencing hearing.

Meanwhile, the defence lawyer for Reinhard “Bud” Loewen recommended that Loewen receive a conditonal sentence (served in the community) of 18 to 24 months.

Loewen’s sentencing hearing began Friday (July 21) in B.C. Supreme Court in Abbotsford. The parties are back in court Tuesday (July 25) to set a date for a continuation of the proceedings.

Loewen, 59, is being sentenced on six counts of sexual assault involving 12 women. He previously pleaded guilty to the six charges after, at one point, facing a total of 24 charges.

Crown lawyer Tanya Roy told the court that Loewen breached his position of trust when he assaulted the women, some of whom were pregnant at the time.

Roy said Loewen, who was first charged in December 2020, was not certified as a massage therapist and had taken only a one-week course in late 2016 through “Brandon Raynor’s School of Natural Therapies.” That course is designed to train someone to give massages to friends and family, she said.

RELATED: Former Abbotsford masseur pleads guilty to 6 of his 24 sexual assault charges

Loewen started his business Bud’s Massage Therapy in 2017 out of the basement of a home in the 35400 block of Munroe in Abbotsford that also had an unrelated hair salon.

Roy said Loewen gained most of his customers through his Facebook page, where he offered low rates, promotional contests, and free massages to pregnant women.

Roy detailed the accounts of the 12 women to whom Loewen has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting.

Some had several massages with him before the criminal behaviour occurred, while others had been only once or twice.

All described similar experiences that included Loewen massaging their stomachs, upper breasts, and inner thighs; touching or rubbing their genitals; and moving their underwear or having them go naked.

He told one woman who had recently had a baby that he was massaging her stomach to “help her uterus go back to normal,” and a pregnant woman that he was massaging her breasts to “stimulate her milk production,” Roy said.

She said the touching was “sexual in nature” and none of the women gave their consent.

Loewen messaged several of the women afterwards to ask how they were doing and, in at least one case, ask when he could book their next appointment.

Many of the women described feeling confused, numb and shocked during and after the assaults.

Seven of the victims submitted written victim impact statements, six of which Roy read in court.

The women described suffering from anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and an inability to trust other people, particularly men.

“Bud is a predator. He presented himself as someone who helps and heals, and he did the opposite,” one victim wrote.

“He pretended to be the saint who just wanted to help with your aches and pains and make you feel better, but he was just out for his own selfish, disgusting needs and ultimately inappropriately touched me.”

RELATED: Former Abbotsford masseur now faces 24 sexual assault charges

Roy said the only mitigating factor the judge should consider in sentencing is that Loewen pleaded guilty, preventing weeks of court time and the further stress that a trial would impose on the victims.

She said the aggravating factors should hold more weight, including that the offences were committed behind closed doors while he abused his position of trust and that the victims were vulnerable –injured and in ongoing pain, pregnant or in “challenging financial situations.”

She said the aggravating factors should hold more weight, including that the offences were committed behind closed doors while he abused his position of trust and that the victims were vulnerable –injured and in ongoing pain, pregnant or in “challenging financial situations.”

Defence lawyer Martin Finch read from a letter that Loewen’s wife of 36 years had written in which she said he had acknowledged that “he has done wrong.”

“I believe that Bud did not have complete training in massage therapy and ended up getting in over his head,” she wrote.

She said he has shown “deep remorse and concern for the well-being of the complainants.”

Finch described Loewen as “otherwise a person of good character” who is deeply involved in his church, including ministry trips to Uganda, Peru and Brazil.

Finch said Loewen got involved in massage because he “fundamentally believed in the healing power” of the practice and wanted to help people.

But the training he took was not thorough and did not include any lessons on ethics or a “full understanding of the reality of just that which would be involved in a man massaging a woman and what could become a potential trap.”

Finch said Loewen did not go into massage for sexual purposes, and helped “hundreds” of people through his business. But he acknowledged that Loewen’s actions constituted a “violation of trust.”

“This is a fellow who was left on his own in the company of persons who placed a trust in him, and there’s no denying the trust relationship … but he is simply a person who had no experience sufficient to be doing that which he did … In my submission he appears to have just fallen prey to his weaknesses, human weaknesses,” Finch said.

At the end of Friday’s proceedings, Loewen was given the opportunity to make a statement in court.

“I’m sorry to all the ladies. If I could reverse time and do things differently, I would, but I can’t anymore. I’m sincerely sorry … I hope that this help because it just hurts,” he said.

“It has impacted my family, and I know that the responsbility was mine … nobody else made me do it. So I accept that responsiblity for doing it, and I just want to apologize to all the ladies … Please forgive me. I hope that you can one day if not now.”

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Vikki Hopes

About the Author: Vikki Hopes

I have been a journalist for almost 40 years, and have been at the Abbotsford News since 1991.
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