A woman testified in a jury trial Wednesday that a massage therapist sexually assaulted her during a massage in Edwardsville more than two years ago, a claim the man’s attorney denied in court.
Ronnie Blom, 58, of Litchfield, is accused of using or threatening to use force to assault a 42-year-old woman on April 30, 2015, during a massage at Massage Luxe.
“Vulnerable, violated, victimized,” prosecuting attorney Samira Khazaeli said about the woman who says Blom assaulted her.
Khazaeli went on to tell the jury that multiple women will also testify that Blom sexually assaulted them during massages.
But Blom’s defense attorney, Scott Snider, told jurors that the “line between therapy and sensuality and sexuality can become muddled and unclear for patients” in massage therapy.
The woman testified that Blom used his fingers to sexually assault her and groped her multiple times. She said she did not leave the room or say anything out of fear.
“I was scared and feeling unsafe. I was in shock and couldn’t move,” she told jurors.
But the defense attorney said the woman did not see Blom commit a sexual act, nor did she complain during the massage that she was uncomfortable — adding that she “was so satisfied with the massage” she left Blom a $30 tip when she paid.
The woman said she left a tip because she did not want anyone to question her or ask if there had been a problem.
“Here I am, a woman alone in a room with a man who appears to have bad intentions,” she said. “I don’t know if saying anything is going to help me in that situation.”
She testified that after the massage, when she was dressed, Blom stood very close to her and said, “Our treatment remains between us.”
Edwardsville Detective Sgt. Michael Lybarger testified that the woman reported a sexual assault to police later that day. She later went to Anderson Hospital in Maryville for a sexual assault examination. When her attorney asked her in court why she didn’t immediately go to the police, she said she felt like she needed time to collect herself before describing the events.
“I was scared and embarrassed. You don’t know how other people will react to this,” she said. “Just because you know what happened doesn’t mean other people will see it the same way you do.”
Snider, the defense attorney, said the woman left out some details in her taped interview with police. She said she did not recall exactly what she told the detective.
Prosecutors also called a nurse from Anderson Hospital and an Illinois State Police forensic scientist as witnesses. Both said the sexual assault examination was inconclusive, common for assaults that do not leave injuries or testable traces of DNA.
A second woman told jurors that Blom touched her genital area during a massage at Massage Envy in 2012, despite her protests. She didn’t tell police about the interaction until after she heard about another incident through a news release from the Edwardsville Police Department.
“I was afraid to move,” she said. “I was afraid if I moved or said anything, he would rape me.”
A third woman also testified that Blom touched her inappropriately, even though she told him not to, during a massage in January 2015. She described him as “unsettling” but said nothing about the incident to police until 2015, when she saw a news article about charges against Blom.
“I couldn’t let her think she was the only one,” she said.
The trial was expected to continue Thursday morning.
As a policy, the News-Democrat does not name alleged victims of sexual assault crimes.