A former Abbotsford masseur has been sentenced to two years in prison for sexually assaulting 12 women while providing services to them.
Reinhard ‘Bud’ Loewen, 59, will also have to submit his DNA to the National Sex Offender Registry. He had at one point been facing a total of 24 charges, but it had been reduced to six counts that affected 12 women, many of whom were pregnant.
In B.C. Supreme Court Thursday (Nov. 2), Justice Ian Caldwell explained why a conditional sentence (house arrest) would not have been sufficient to deter Loewen from offending again.
Loewen advertised his services for free or very low-cost on Facebook pages, sometimes in the form of contests, specifically targeting pregnant women. Caldwell read the detailed accounts of how those massages turned into sexual assaults for 12 different women on multiple occasions over about two years.
“These are the actions of a long-term, committed, serial sex predator,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell also read from victim impact statements from several of the women, who are not to be identified under a publication ban.
“It was hard to have to tell my mom that her baby was hurt,” one woman’s statement read.
“I felt like he violated my baby,” another had said.
Some of his victims have suffered anxiety, anxiety attacks, required anti-depressants, and have had significant impacts on their lives and relationships due to the nature of the assault. One victim lost her job because she was unable to leave her bedroom.
“It’s robbed my children of their mother,” that one had said.
“I almost booked my 16-year-old daughter with him,” one explained. “The devastation sits very deep in me. What if it was her?”
In explaining his decision, Caldwell read portions from similar case law that dealt with sexual assaults during massage treatments in Canada. In each case, a decision had to be made between incarceration or a conditional sentence that would allow the offender to serve his time in the community.
Massage therapy falls under a position of trust or authority, which Caldwell ruled that “Mr. Loewen clearly abused.”
“He relied on the trust bestowed to (him) to attack his victims,” he said, with significant impact to them.
He planned and deliberated the attacks, rather than “simply happening on victims.” He also offered them financial incentives, by way of free or deeply discounted massage therapy.
“He targeted financially and physically vulnerable victims,” Caldwell said, and further isolated them in order to assault them.
And, he added, this was not a one-time event, but a pattern over a course of about two years.
There were some mitigating factors, but a doctor who assessed Loewen found that while he showed some remorse, he was also concerned that nobody was listening to his side of the story. The doctor also felt he was not being fully candid about his actions.
But Loewen had fully complied with bail conditions, has no criminal record, and a strong family and church base that continues to support him.
Some of those supports were in the Abbotsford courtroom for the sentencing, as were a large number of his victims.
One woman clapped when Loewen was handcuffed, while his family members clasped hands. Loewen looked to his family before being taken away for processing.
He was charged with a series of six consecutive charges ranging from three to five months each, adding up to the two years of incarceration. Following his release, he will serve 36 months of probation, with a list of conditions and ancillary orders, including providing a DNA sample, a 10-year firearms prohibition, and strict orders to not contact or be near any of his 12 victims.
“If you see them, you must leave immediately,” Caldwell underlined.
He may not provide massage services, and must remove any information from the internet that offers such services within 24 hours of his release from prison. If he wants massage services during that time, the practitioner must be informed of his history, and a male supervisor must be present who is also aware.
Loewen will also be required to inform his parole officer of any address or name changes, and his employment, for the course of his three-year probation.
He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of $200 per count, totalling $1,200 payable within 60 days of his sentencing.
Loewen formerly operated Bud’s Massage Therapy. He started that business in 2017 out of a basement of a home in the 35400 block of Munroe Avenue in Abbotsford that also had an unrelated hair salon.
Loewen was first charged in December 2020. He 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.