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Richmond masseur's sexual assault conviction appeal rejected

Kuo Liang Paul Chien was convicted in July 2022 of sexually assaulting a woman during a therapeutic massage.
B.C.'s Court of Appeal has rejected the case of a Richmond therapeutic massage therapist.

B.C.’s Court of Appeal has rejected the sex assault conviction appeal of a Richmond therapeutic massage practitioner.

Writing for the unanimous three-judge panel, Justice Janet Winteringham said Kuo Liang Paul Chien was convicted of the crime against A.B. during a therapeutic massage.

He was convicted in Richmond Provincial Court on July 19, 2022.

The judge said in the May 16 decision that A.B. had received massage therapy from Chien twice before.

On the day of the assault, June 7, 2018, A.B. described a massage that started like the others.

However, she said as the session progressed, and without her consent, the appellant rubbed her in private areas under the pretense of legitimate massage treatment.

“She described confusion as the massage proceeded,” the judge said.

At trial, Chien denied touching intimate parts of A.B.’s body.

Later the same day, Chien and A.B. exchanged text messages, said Winteringham.

A.B. texted: “About today’s massage, I feel you were disgusting. Don’t do it to other people again.”

Chien responded: “I won’t do such kind of things again. I only asked you because I wanted to help you. I dare not do it again in the future. Are you OK [?]”

He added: “I am regretful too.”

“(Chien’s) messages were arguably incriminating. In his evidence at trial, the appellant provided a different account of what he understood and intended to communicate in the text messages,” Winteringham wrote. “With respect to the massage itself, the appellant denied any wrongful touching.”

Chien appealed on two grounds.

He claimed the trial judge failed to consider all of the evidence and that the judge erred in impermissibly using the text messages to bolster A.B.’s credibility.

Chien asked the trial judge to infer A.B. was happy with the service because she left a tip when she paid.

A.B. testified she tipped because she wanted to leave as quickly as possible and that her mind was “blank.”

She said she saw the tip as “part of the process” and a gesture she must do in Canada, Winteringham said.

The judge rejected that appeal argument, saying A.B.’s evidence was credible.

Chien further said the trial judge erred by refusing to infer he was unlikely to have assaulted A.B. while his wife was downstairs.

“The judge declined to rely on a generalization about how much risk a sexual assault perpetrator might be willing to take in circumstances such as this case,” Winteringham said.

On the text issue, Winteringham said the trial judge was addressing A.B.'s “comments about the steps she took — her conduct immediately after the assault — as part of her credibility assessment.”

Winteringham said the judge was entitled to consider the context and timing of the texts. “The judge did not use the text messages as ‘repetition’ to bolster (A.B.’s) credibility,” she said.

The College of Massage Therapist of BC does not indicate any registration for Chien.

Glacier Media has changed the initials of the victim to avoid any possibility of identification.