Masseur jailed for rape, sexual assault against client at his home

A masseur who raped and sexually assaulted a woman who visited his home for a massage has been jailed for more than five years for crimes a judge described as grave, opportunistic and of the sort that concern women.

Michael Sergides was paid $60 for a massage that was supposed to ease the woman’s shoulder and back soreness, but instead he suggested she completely undress and then rubbed between her buttocks and her breasts with his hands, and then digitally penetrated her.

Michael Sergides was jailed for five years and nine months.Credit:Facebook

The woman visited Sergides’ home in Clyde North, in Melbourne’s outer south-east, on June 26, 2018, after her friend found his advertisement on sales website Gumtree.

County Court judge Martine Marich – who this year found Sergides guilty of rape and sexual assault after a judge-only trial – on Tuesday jailed the father of four and grandfather for five years and nine months. He must serve 3½ years before he is eligible for parole.

“You took advantage of her vulnerability in an entitled way that has caused deep and enduring trauma to her,” Judge Marich told Sergides, 75, as he watched on a video link from prison.

“These are the types of incidents that cause concern in women that they are not safe from opportunistic sexual violation.”

The victim, aged in her 20s, said she felt frozen, worthless and empty during the massage and called her friend and her mother once she left. The woman then went straight to the police.

In an impact statement, the woman said the crimes left her lost, isolated and housebound, without anything that brought her joy. She self-harmed, her relationships with loved ones suffered and her mental health declined to diagnoses of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“He took my only reason to get up each day and my only reason to live,” she said.

But having once felt “utterly destroyed” and a “prisoner” in her mind, she was proud to state she was now a recovered and strong woman.

“I decided he wouldn’t win any more … what he took from me that night I have now taken back. I have reclaimed my life,” she said.

Judge Marich accepted the victim’s evidence in finding Sergides guilty, and found there were inconsistencies between what Sergides told the woman’s friend in a phone call and his denials to police. She found he had no case to answer on two other charges.

Sergides was formerly an architect, musician, gymnastics teacher and real estate agent before he became a masseur, and was carer for a son and daughter – both adults – because they have disabilities.

Judge Marich accepted his loss of the caring roles and his inability to sponsor his second wife’s visa application to move to Australia – because of his criminal conviction – would weigh heavily while in prison. She also acknowledged Sergides was a man of good prior behaviour and retained family support, had health problems and good rehabilitative prospects. He has already served two months.

In 2019 Victoria’s Health Complaints Commissioner permanently banned Sergides from running general health services.

Support is available from the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service at 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).

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