A massage practitioner accused of sexually assaulting numerous clients was sentenced to a minimum of 16 years in prison on Thursday.
Freddy Anthony Perales, 58, appeared in 1st District Court for sentencing via video conference from the Cache County Jail. He pleaded guilty in February to three counts of first-degree object rape and four counts of second-degree forcible sexual abuse in six separate cases. Each case involved separate victims.
Defense attorney Shannon Demler argued for a term of probation for his client and a desire for Perales to receive treatment. Demler told the court Perales had no recent criminal history and had lived a “conventional lifestyle” providing for his family while maintaining employment for 38 years.
“There are numerous people that think the world of Freddy,” Demler said, explaining Perales “truly believes he was healing people” through his techniques.
Perales addressed the court prior to sentencing and apologized to the victims while asking for forgiveness. He said he understood he hurt people emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.
“I have to live with this shame and guilt,” Perales told the court. “I wanted to be a healer, but it didn’t work out.”
However, Cache County prosecutor Dane Murray said Perales’ trustworthiness was merely an outward display.
“That’s why he’s dangerous,” Murray told the court.
Murray said Perales’ actions were categorical sexual assaults and argued for a sentence that reflected each individual victim — 18-years-to-life in the Utah State Prison.
“He should be removed as long as the court is legally allowed to do so,” Murray said.
Five victims addressed the court either verbally or through written statements to victim’s advocates prior to Perales’ sentencing. At least two of the victims specifically requested a prison sentence for Perales; one asked for a punishment fitting of the crime and hoped Perales could get help.
One victim told the court the assault had resulted in post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and “hundreds of hours” away from family while receiving treatment. She said Perales betrayed the trust society places in those providing health services.
“Mr. Perales was supposed to be a healer,” the victim said, but instead took advantage of the vulnerable.
Another victim told the court she had also been taken advantage of while in a vulnerable state and was now unable to receive treatment from male practitioners.
One victim, through a written statement read by a victim’s advocate, offered forgiveness to Perales, held “no animosity” and credited him for her “beautiful” marriage.
Judge Brian Cannell said Perales was a “serial predator” and imposed a sentence of 16-years-life in prison.
“These predatory acts were heinous,” Cannell said, “and, frankly, disgusting.”
Cannell said there are opportunities for treatment programs in prison and that he believed in redemption and change for Perales. He also expressed his hope for the victims to fully recover from the incidents.