AN 82-YEAR-OLD masseur has been jailed for raping three women and sexually assaulting 13 others as they lay on his massage table.
Arny Hale was working from markets including at Yandina and Fishermans Rd in Maroochydore when he assaulted the women over a period of about three years and seven months.
Crown prosecutor Greg Cummings told Maroochydore District Court on Thursday that Hale had been aged somewhere between 75 and 80 when he committed the 19 offences.
Mr Cummings said Hale's offending ranged from feeling women's breasts and particularly their nipples to rubbing their buttocks and genitals through their clothes.
In the cases of rape, he penetrated their genitals with his fingers.
Mr Cummings said the rapes occurred at markets as well as in one woman's home after she invited him to give her a massage.
He said the victims ranged in age from about 20 through to "more mature".
The rape victims were about 57, 48 and 45 at the time of their respective assaults.
Mr Cummings said Hale's focus on the breasts, buttocks and vagina had no therapeutic benefits whatsoever.
His actions were described as opportunistic but also exploitative of a situation in which his clients were vulnerable.
"He has violated them and their trust," Mr Cummings said.
Judge David Andrews noted police had questioned Hale after one of his earlier victims made a complaint but they had not proceeded with charges.
Hale then went on to offend against more women.
His criminal history was also of concern, as it emerged that Hale had been convicted in 2005 of digitally penetrating and rubbing the breasts of a woman who was a massage client.
"It perhaps bespeaks a need for more serious regulation of this industry," Mr Cummings said.
Judge Andrews said it was a shame that someone with a conviction for sexual assault was allowed to continue working as a masseur.
He noted there did not appear to be any laws stopping that from happening.
Mr Cummings tendered victim impact statements provided by four of Hale's victims.
He noted a recurring theme of shame and humiliation felt by the women after their assaults.
Defence barrister Simon Lewis accepted his client would be sentenced to about four years in jail but asked for the time actually served to be reduced due to Hale's age.
"His advanced age will make him vulnerable in prison," Mr Lewis said.
He said Hale would be vulnerable to physical assault because he could not defend himself.
Mr Lewis asked the time be reduced to a year of actual imprisonment.
"When you reach the age of 82, 12 months is a long time in the scheme of things."
Judge Andrews said he needed to hand down a sentence that sent a message to others in the massage industry that if they raped clients like Hale had they would be punished.
However, he accepted prison time would be more arduous for Hale than it would be for a younger person.
He sentenced Hale to four years in jail, to be suspended after serving 12 months.
Hale will also be on a probation order for three years after he is released.
A condition is he not perform massages on anyone except his wife during those three years.
A number of victims were in the public gallery for the sentence.
Outside of court one of the women said the case showed the need for tighter regulations on the massage therapy industry.
"It's alarming to consider that we have an industry that's unregulated and it's very clear when you have a perpetrator like this, that has a criminal history," she said.
"I call for our government in Queensland to lead the way, to protect women."
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.