EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 21, 2012

Masseur found not guilty

By John Toole
jtoole@eagletribune.com

---- — BRENTWOOD — A Superior Court jury has found a former masseur from Derry not guilty of simple assault charges stemming from a complaint by a client last year at a Windham spa.

"The jury found him not guilty of both," Rockingham County Attorney Jim Reams said.

Stephen Jenkins, 42, sought the "trial de novo" after his conviction on the misdemeanor offenses last year in 10th Circuit Court in Salem.

Judge John Coughlin presided at the Circuit Court trial. There was no jury.

The state Constitution guarantees the right to another trial before a jury for criminal defendants faced with possible incarceration.

In this case, Jenkins was sentenced to serve one year on each conviction.

Defense attorney Shawn Sweeney said he would appeal after Jenkins was sentenced last December. Sweeney told the judge Jenkins should have been sentenced to no more than 30 days.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has upheld the "trial de novo" process as recently as 2009 in State of New Hampshire v. Gabriel Bilc, in which then-Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, now a U.S. senator, represented the state.

The case against Jenkins originated from several complaints brought by women when he was working as a massage therapist at Bella Viaggio Salon.

During his Circuit Court trial, a then 41-year-old woman accused Jenkins of improperly touching her breast and groin area during a massage.