Health spa owner cleared of sexually assaulting massage customer
Kerry Brocklebank, 43, was alleged to have repeatedly rubbed down the man despite his protestations at Huntingdon Spa and UK Sports Massage in Cambridgeshire on October 11.
While admitting to being "tipsy" and in swimwear at the time, she denied the charge - insisting she only touched the man's calf muscles, which are not an "erogenous sexual zone".
Following a trial at Cambridge Crown Court, Brocklebank, who lives at the spa, was cleared by the jury of six men and six women of sexual assault, an alternative charge of battery and perverting the course of justice.
Brocklebank, who broke down while telling the jury how the accusation had wrecked her life, hugged relatives in relief as she left the courtroom.
Prosecutor Stephen Mather suggested Brocklebank had touched the alleged victim for her sexual gratification, a claim she denied.
She said she had earlier flirted with the keen runner and called him "darling" as he waited for a sports massage from therapist Henry Godfree, but claimed there was no attraction.
The trial heard that the qualified sports therapist had been "just a little bit tipsy", having drunk a glass of prosecco and two flutes of champagne while celebrating a friend's birthday.
Brocklebank said she had expected to find the sports massage room empty when she went in dressed in a "quite boring, conservative" polka dot swimming costume, to fetch dry towels.
She told the court she was alarmed to find the alleged victim lying the wrong way without a towel, because Mr Godfree had a history of inappropriate behaviour.
"When I entered the room, (the alleged victim) looked shocked and embarrassed. I was pretty shocked and embarrassed myself because he was lying in an inappropriate manner," she previously said.
"As an ice-breaker, more than anything, because I felt awkward, was part of the reason I asked to massage his calf."
She added: "I think I may have interrupted something personal or inappropriate between him and Henry. It was the only thing that makes any sense as to why he reacted the way he did."
The businesswoman said freelance therapist Mr Godfree, who is in his early 20s, had once "exposed" her body while giving her a massage, and told her he wanted to cover her in strawberry sauce on another occasion.
She claimed contact with her accuser lasted "for a matter of seconds", before she stopped when he said: "No, I'm here for Henry."
Mr Godfree then came and confronted her, she said during evidence.
Overcome with emotion, Brocklebank told the court the ordeal had destroyed her profession and her home.
She said the allegations had left her feeling "suicidal", adding: "(Mr Godfree) had always been very jovial with me, I didn't understand why he was turning nasty with me. I now know it was about money."
She claimed a series of texts sent to the alleged victim were an attempt to smooth things over.
One read "I shouldn't mix business with pleasure", another said "Pplease forgive me", while Brocklebank wrote in a third: "I was only trying to have a laugh with you".
Between October 10 and November 2 last year, she was also alleged to have messaged Mr Godfree, which prosecutors claimed was an attempt to pervert the course of justice.
They said: "Sorry, did I interrupt your gay time?" and: "Believe me, if this goes to court I will ruin the pair of you."
But Brocklebank said: "I was informing him if he tries to tell lies about me, I will tell the truth ... and expose him."