County of Siskiyou, District Attorney Press Release
Yreka, CA. On Tuesday, August 17, 2023, David Roy Knowles, 75, of Mount Shasta, California, was found guilty of 14 counts of sexual assault against 12 different adult female victims. Knowles appeared in Siskiyou County Superior Court and elected to plead “no contest” to each of the 14 charges brought by the Siskiyou County District Attorney. As a consequence of his plea, Knowles was found guilty by Judge John Lawrence.
David Roy Knowles, 75, of Mount Shasta, California.
In the afternoon of May 16, 2021, the Mount Shasta Police Department (MSPD) received a report from a female victim stating she was sexually assaulted during a massage by the keeper/host of the MountInn Retreat & Spa on Birch Street in Mount Shasta City. Over the next two weeks several additional victims came forward after reading a press release from the Mount Shasta Police Department. A total of 6 adult female victims were identified. The District Attorney’s Office charged Knowles with 8 felony violations on June 22, 2021.
Shortly thereafter, Mount Shasta Police Department officers executed a search warrant forKnowles and his MountInn Retreat and Spa. Officers seized a computer, business records, cell phone and other items of evidence. With these records, District Attorney Kirk Andrus, assigned Deputy District Attorney Theo Balboni, and the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation, reached out by email to hundreds of previous MountInn customers with a recorded video announcing the investigation and encouraging victims to come forward. Six former customers responded to the District Attorney’s Office that they had been victimized. They were then interviewed by MSPD officers.
Of the 14 charges Knowles was found guilty of violating, the twelve victims ranged in age from 26-69 at the time of the offenses. The offenses occurred between 2011 and May of 2021. Three additional victims reported being sexually assaulted by Knowles in a similar fashion dating back as far as 2005. These violations were barred by the statute of limitation. Each victim reported that private parts of their bodies had been sexually touched and/or penetrated during massages by Knowles at his MountInn Retreat & Spa.
In California, the agency responsible for regulating massage practices is the California Massage Therapy Council (CMTC). Knowles was not licensed through the CMTC. On behalf of the District Attorney, MSPD consulted an expert in order to understand the accepted standards and practices for massage therapy. This expert belongs to the American Massage Therapy Association and is certified through the CMTC. They had trained approximately 1000 massage professionals and was proficient in many types of massage therapy. When asked specific questions taken from victim reports regarding the touching of intimate parts of the victims’ bodies, the expert stated unequivocally that the behaviors were inappropriate and not legitimate commercial massage practices.
Knowles did possess a valid business license for the MountInn Retreat from the City of Mount Shasta. In early 2023 it was learned that Knowles, having been released on bail during the pendency of his case, continued to operate his bed and breakfast. In February 2023 Deputy District Attorney Balboni contacted Mount Shasta City to formally alert them to the charges and advise them to revoke Knowles’ business license, an action the City had apparent authority to do so under Mt. Shasta Municipal Code Section 5.12.070(A)(6). The City responded that they wereonly willing to proceed with the revocation process after Knowles was convicted of all charges.
The defendant will be sentenced on December 5, 2023, and will be remanded into custody that day to begin a prison sentence in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). He will be sentenced to 6 years in state prison. According to District Attorney Kirk Andrus, “we were completely confident in our ability to prove this felony misconduct at trial as crimes, but the feelings of the victims were vitally important to our decision. The majority of the twelve victims in this case were reluctant to re-live the trauma of Knowles’ abuses and requestedthat our office resolve his case without public testimony.”
Mr. Andrus continued, “we have the highest regard for the courage of these women who reported Knowles’ abuse. Many suffered for years with feelings of guilt, shame and humiliation that can scarcely be understood by somebody who has not experienced this. Their strength in standing together brought this result and it is our hope that his punishment brings them a measure of peace.”
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