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Former massage therapist begins jail term for sexually motivated coercion

A former massage therapist began serving a six-month jail sentence Thursday for sexually motivated coercion involving two victims.

The penalty, imposed by Clark County District Judge Michelle Leavitt, is a far cry from the potential life sentence the defendant, James Brian Goins, faced before striking a plea deal in October.

Goins, 54, cited a related lawsuit against him in declining to speak at his sentencing hearing. The two victims, however, had plenty to say. In emotional victim-impact statements, both women described Goins as a predator who deserved the maximum possible punishment.

“Every time I hear or see the word ‘massage,’ I have flashbacks of what Mr. Goins did to me in July 2013,” one woman said. “It makes my skin crawl.”

The woman claims Goins sexually assaulted her on July 29, 2013, after she went to his home studio in Las Vegas for a massage. Another woman claims Goins groped her during a massage on Aug. 6, 2013, at a Massage Heights franchise in Henderson.

“He had no right to violate me and touch me the way he did,” the first victim told Leavitt. “Mr. Goins knew it was wrong, yet he did it anyway, and not just to me. There was two of us that came forward. And just imagine how many other victims are out there who didn’t come forward because they were scared.”

The woman said she has developed an eating disorder and has been diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder since the crime occurred.

Goins was facing sexual assault charges when the criminal case went to trial in October. The victim in the Las Vegas incident testified that she did not tell Goins to stop when he used his hands to sexually assault her or later when he performed oral sex on her. She said she was scared and “didn’t know what to do.”

The trial came to an abrupt halt after a Las Vegas police detective took the witness stand and offered his unsolicited opinion that no crime had occurred. Detective Michael Fortunato gave that opinion as his explanation for not sending the victim for a sexual assault examination and for not seeking a warrant to search Goins’ home.

Later that day, Goins pleaded guilty to a felony charge of sexually motivated coercion involving both victims. He entered what is known as an “Alford plea,” which required him to admit only that prosecutors could prove their case against him.

Leavitt followed the terms of the plea bargain in sentencing Goins to three years of probation. If Goins successfully completes probation, which includes serving six months in the Clark County Detention Center, he will be allowed to withdraw his felony plea and plead guilty to a gross misdemeanor count of coercion.

Goins must register as a sex offender after his release from jail.

The defendant, wearing bluejeans and a white button-up shirt, was taken into custody in Leavitt’s courtroom following the sentencing hearing.

Las Vegas police did not arrest Goins after the July 2013 incident, but Henderson police arrested him in January 2014 on a lewdness charge related to the second incident.

The second victim told Leavitt the experience has ruined her. She said she once was an outgoing person but now hides “in a shell.”

She called Goins a predator who “does not deserve to be on the streets.”

The Las Vegas Review-Journal generally does not identify victims of sexual crimes.

Both victims have filed a lawsuit against Goins and Massage Heights. A trial in the civil case is scheduled for March 2017.

Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at cgeer@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710. Find her on Twitter: @CarriGeer

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