The College of Massage Therapists of B.C. is petitioning the Supreme Court of B.C. to prevent Matthew Romyn from ever identifying or providing services as a registered massage therapist again. (Unsplash photo)

The College of Massage Therapists of B.C. is petitioning the Supreme Court of B.C. to prevent Matthew Romyn from ever identifying or providing services as a registered massage therapist again. (Unsplash photo)

Sexual assault victim of discredited Courtenay massage therapist comes forward

‘I don’t want anyone else to be hurt’

WARNING: This article contains content that may be triggering for those who have experienced sexual violence or know someone affected by it. Reader discretion is advised.

‘Emily’ met Matthew Romyn through her best friend, who Roman was dating at the time.

They spent time together and knew that Romyn was an unlicensed massage therapist. He came over to Emily’s Comox Valley home and she didn’t question the idea of sharing the space with him, or that anything untoward would happen.

Emily, whose real name the Comox Valley Record is not using, was sexually assaulted by Romyn in February 2020 – seven years after he was convicted of five counts of sexual assault – one against a minor – in 2013 and sentenced to nine months in jail, followed by two years of probation.

At the time, Romyn, who was found to have committed professional misconduct by the College of Massage Therapists of British Columbia (CMTBC), was placed on the sexual offender registry program for 20 years.

The college is now petitioning the Supreme Court of B.C. to prevent Romyn from ever identifying or providing services as a registered therapist again following an alleged October 2019 incident where he offered to provide massage therapy services to parent chaperones of a school field trip to a fish hatchery in Courtenay.

Additionally, he provided business cards listing him as a registered massage therapist, despite no longer being a registrant of the CMTBC.

Emily decided to go to the police and report her assault, even after her friend questioned whether the incident even happened. She also told her partner and another friend, and credits the Comox Valley RCMP officer who was responsible for her case with making her feel “like he actually cared.”

It took about two months before charges were laid, and Romyn eventually pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault in April 2021 and was sentenced to nine months in jail.

Because he chose to enter a guilty plea, Emily says it was a huge relief she didn’t have to attend court to testify.

“I received a lot of support from (RCMP) Victim Services. As a victim, I recognize that I have a good family and a stable life. Even though I have had a lot of trauma, I have a lot (of support) that many people don’t have. I realize that if every woman actually reported their sexual assaults, the justice system would collapse because there are just so many.”

Emily reflects on her position of privilege: she says as a middle-class white woman, going to the authorities was a viable option and recognizes that isn’t possible for many women.

“Knowing that you’re going to be listened to and not being questioned by the police (was very helpful). I don’t want anyone else to be hurt and I feel like I have an obligation as a feminist, as a woman, that my voice is going to be heard and I can use that.”

She is currently working with the CMTBC as part of their upcoming petition against Romyn and adds allowing her story to be told is one way to take back power while allowing others in the community to know what happened.

• • •

In addition to ensuring Romyn can never render massage services again, a mother who provided an affidavit to the CMTBC would like a school district policy in place to require criminal record checks for chaperones.

The mother, who is a member of a parent advisory council that approached School District 71 twice to recommend a policy of record checks – particularly for sex offenders – says she was turned down twice.

“I was told the policy has to be specific as to what is allowed and there are so many grey areas,” she notes.

She explains in order to be a volunteer driver for school trips, parents and guardians have to submit a driving abstract and sign a waiver and adds her understanding some schools in the Lower Mainland have a policy where volunteers have to submit a background check, and the PACs pay for any associated fees.

“It’s up to each school to adopt a policy, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done … I get that (he’s) a parent, but he’s also a registered sex offender.”

Inquiries about an official school policy from SD71 were not returned by deadline. The Record has also reached out to the Comox Valley RCMP regarding their notifications to the community on the sexual offender registry program.

The allegations against Romyn in the CMTBC’s petition have not been proven in court.



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