Masseuse ‘panicked during alleged sex assault by blind peer’

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A beauty therapist allegedly sexually assaulted by a blind peer during a massage feared she could not go to police because she went on to finish the treatment after the incident, a court has heard.

Lord Holmes of Richmond, one of the UK’s most successful Paralympians, is accused of groping the woman’s bottom and asking if she did “extras” while pointing at his crotch.

The 48-year-old, a nine-time Paralympic swimming gold medallist, faces one count of sexual assault for allegedly grabbing the woman under the guise of seeing what she looked like on March 7 last year.

The complainant said she did not just leave immediately because she was worried about Holmes hurting either himself or his guide dog in the small treatment room.

The alleged incident occurred towards the ends of a 90-minute deep tissue massage at a five star hotel in London.

The complainant said that after realising he had gone too far, Holmes had shushed her and apologised repeatedly, and that she had continued with the treatment.

She told Southwark Crown Court: “I didn’t want to escalate the situation because the dog was in the room as well and because the client was blind, so I didn’t want to just leave the room.

“In normal circumstances I would have.”

In messages to her manager about 30 minutes after the booking had ended, she said: “I should have left the room, but he shushed me and apologised so many times – I felt bad for the dog.”

Her manager replied calling Holmes “entitled” because of his peerage, and saying: “There’s a million places they can go for that stuff, but I believe they go to a spa so they can push boundaries.”

The manager added: “I bet it was uncomfortable for the dog.”

The complainant said she had agreed to allow Holmes to touch her face, believing it was what blind people did.

In a message to her boyfriend the same afternoon, she said she had “panicked” and decided to finish the treatment.

Her boyfriend recommended she report Holmes to the House of Lords or to the police.

He said she could still make a complaint even though she had finished the treatment, saying: “They take this seriously now after #MeToo.”

She replied: “(It was) my fault as I stayed in the room.”

Her boyfriend urged her to go to the police, saying: “He will keep doing it if no one speaks up.”

He told her “men are f pigs”, adding: “A member of Parliament shouldn’t be doing this, no one should be doing this.”

Holmes denies any wrongdoing, and the jury was told the defence suggests the complainant is making a malicious claim in the hope of some kind of financial gain.

Holmes has been completely blind since the age of 14.

As well as athletics, he has had a successful career as a solicitor, graduating from Cambridge with a degree in law in 2002.

The trial, which is due to last about a week, continues.