Paralympian accused of groping masseuse, pointing to his crotch and asking about 'extras'
London - A blind Paralympic swimming champion and peer grabbed a masseuse’s bottom and asked if she ‘did extras’ at a top hotel, a court heard yesterday.
Christopher Holmes of Richmond, 48, is accused of sexually assaulting the beauty therapist, groping her and asking to touch her breasts during a 90-minute treatment at a London hotel spa.
The nine-time gold medallist, who was one of Britain’s most successful Paralympians, denies sexual touching. He claims he only ran his hands down her body to find out what she looked like.
The peer, who joined the House of Lords in 2013 after working for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, told police: ‘It is always difficult to ask to touch sighted people, but it is a basic human instinct to want to know what somebody looks like.’
Southwark Crown Court heard that the masseuse was nearing the end of an £150 treatment on March 7 last year when Holmes manoeuvred her between his legs and asked: ‘Can I see how you look?’
The woman agreed, ‘thinking that this was what blind people do’, but tried to pull away after Holmes ran his hands over her face, shoulders and sides , resting his hands around her hips, jurors heard. Prosecutor Linda Strudwick said: ‘Mr Holmes stopped her by grabbing her buttocks. He said “nice” and he asked if he could touch her breasts.
‘He asked if she “did extras”, pointing to his crotch.’ The court heard that Holmes had already removed the paper underwear he had been asked to wear.
The prosecutor said: ‘This was a deliberate sexual assault, or sexual touching. He knew that the sighted are often embarrassed around blind people and he used that.’ Yesterday the masseuse wept as she gave evidence behind a screen. She recalled: ‘His legs were around my body either side. I was in the middle.
‘I thought that he wanted to just touch my face or something. I thought blind people do that. I was feeling very uncomfortable so I was moving my body away.
‘He was touching my face and my shoulders and then grabbed my bum and squeezed it. I felt confused. I felt ashamed.
‘He asked if he could touch my boobs. I said this is making me uncomfortable and then he put his hands towards his crotch and asked if I do extra. I said, ‘‘no I’m a professional’’.’
The masseuse claimed she quickly finished the treatment but didn’t run out as she feared his guide dog might attack her. ‘I panicked as he is blind.’ She informed her manager, who described her as ‘shaking’ and went to the police the next day.
The peer, who has campaigned for better access for the disabled in public places, insists the touching was innocent. He told police: ‘It is a bit strange to be massaged by someone without knowing what they look like.
‘I cannot be sure exactly where my hands rested but there was absolutely no intention to touch her in a sexual way. At no time did I touch her breasts or genital area.’
He denied asking for ‘extras’, adding: ‘I did not ask my therapist for sexual services of any kind.’ The trial continues.Daily Mail