Jury deliberating in case of Nacogdoches masseuse accused of sexual assault

Jury deliberating in case of Nacogdoches masseuse accused of sexual assault

Editor's Note: This story contains graphic sexual content.

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The jury is now deliberating in the case of a professional massage therapist from Nacogdoches who is accused of sexually assaulting his client back in July of 2016.

The trial for Caleb O'Neal Eaves, 30, is being held in Judge Edwin Klein's 420th Judicial District Court. He is facing a second-degree felony sexual assault charge.

According to the arrest affidavit, the victim made the initial outcry to the sheriff's office on July 10, 2016. After a report was taken, a SANE exam was conducted on the woman. The exam revealed that she had an injury that was consistent with her claim that she had been sexually assaulted.

When the alleged victim talked to a Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office investigator on July 11, 2016, she told him that after she received a gift certificate for a massage from a friend, she went to Eaves' home in the 200 block of County Road 415 to redeem it.

During the massage, Eaves allegedly removed the woman's underwear and told her to turn over onto her back. Then Eaves began massaging the woman's genital area and sexually assaulted her, the affidavit stated.

Lisa King, the sexual assault nurse examiner who checked out the alleged victim, took the stand Wednesday morning. She said after she performed the exam on the alleged victim, the abrasions she saw matched the events described by the young woman.

King agreed with defense attorney Seth Johnson that the SANE exam does not prove a sexual assault happened.

"We will look at what we do or do not find and make a conclusion," King said.

King told prosecutor Andrew Jones that just because someone might force someone's legs open, it doesn't mean there would be a bruise.

King was shown a photo where it was hard to see any injuries. She said it was taken to document the injury but came out blurry.

Clinical psychologist Sydney Kroll was the next witness. Kroll said our brain is always on alert for a potential threat, and the brain sometimes gives a freeze response. The action is part of Perry Traumatic Stress Response.

"The best way to describe it is if we go outside and see a rabbit it will freeze because it doesn't want to be seen or know what to do," Kroll said.

Kroll said with people it will look like they are frozen.

Jones gave a hypothetical scenario similar to what Eaves is accused of doing, and Kroll said if someone laid there and didn't do anything it could possibly be a freeze response.

Johnson had Kroll establish she is not giving a professional opinion on this case.

Johnson brought up that freeze response is just one part of PTSR. He said fighting back, struggling, screaming, cursing, and passing out are also part of PTSR.

Kroll said the degrees of response can vary depending on what is going on.

The state then rested.

Eaves then took the stand in his own defense.

"I violated morals and guidelines by the state," Eaves said. "I violated my beliefs. I violated my religious beliefs. I violated my marriage vows. ... I am guilty of sexual misconduct but not sexual assault."

Eaves said if he had followed his beliefs, he would have not been in that situation.

"I would have not asked the question, and we would not be here," Eaves said.

Eaves said his license with the state expired last August, and he did not renew.

Eaves said he had remorse.

"I believe I had consent, but that doesn't make it right," Eaves said. "I never meant to hurt anyone."

Eaves said he lied at first to investigators because he did not want to lose his license or his marriage.

Eaves told Johnson that he also explores the idea of a "happy ending" with the victim's friend that was also getting massages from him. Eaves said the friend's responses and body language led him to believe she didn't want it.

Eaves said he did not use any strength to hold down the alleged victim, and it was not his intention.

Eaves told Johnson that if the girl had done anything to indicate she wanted him to stop then he would have stopped.

"I'm not trained in recognizing [PTSR], but in a massage, you want the client to be relaxed and quiet and motionless," Eaves said. "Before the digital penetration, her behavior was what I was expecting and during the penetration, I perceived that I honestly thought I wasn't doing a good job."

Eaves said he quit after a few minutes because his arm was getting tired and he wasn't stimulating her.

"I believe wholeheartedly that I had consent, and she knew what was going on," Eaves said. "There was no doubt in my mind when I asked her 'are you comfortable with me going further,'" and she said, 'If you are' that it was understood."

Eaves said the context of the question was important.

"There was a progression," Eaves said. "I asked several questions throughout."

Eaves said those questions by themselves did not give him consent for sexual contact, but each led to the next.

Eaves said the sexual stimulation might have been just over five minutes. He said after the sexual penetration stopped he continued on her legs then the neck and shoulders.

"As I continued, I told her next time she would need to tell me what she liked," Eaves said. "I needed to know how she wanted to be stimulated. That's when she said next time just stick to the legs."

Eaves said that was the first verbal response she gave, adding her response seemed not that he did anything wrong but just that she did not enjoy the sexual stimulation. Eaves told Johnson when she texted him he still thought that if she came back he would give a massage and just stick to the legs.

Jones asked Eaves if he was running prostitution because he sold a gift certificate to her friend and then was expecting the girl to let him do this. Eaves said he is not sure that's right.

Jones brought up that she was alone, and Eaves didn't think she had to fight him off.

"You said you did this because she was young cute and free and that she lost control," Jones said. "You didn't try that with her friend because she was more strong-willed. You went after her because she was naive."

Eaves didn't agree with that.

Jones asked if "everything" meant shoving his fingers in her.

"No, it does not," Eaves said. "That was before I asked the other questions."

Eaves told Jones he did not ask any more questions when the victim lay there and was not getting stimulated.

Eaves told Jones that "he was ashamed" and that's why he lied to investigators.

Jones asked Eaves if he felt sorry for what he did or because he got caught.

After not answering at times and stating he believed it was not a fair question Eaves said yes to the question of him wanting the jury to believe that he thought it was okay to do this to a girl considered a stranger.

The defense then rested, and the state did not do a rebuttal. The case is now on recess for lunch, and closing arguments will be made this afternoon.

In his closing statements, Johnson said the same thing he said in his opening statements claiming this was not sexual assault but a miscommunication. The defense attorney also said that it was not his intent to sexually assault the victim and he was not knowingly aware that the alleged victim had not consented.

Johnson brought up that there are no other charges with neglect that are on the table.

"I'm not asking you to like Mr. Eaves or condone him wanting a "happy ending," Johnson said. "I'm asking you to follow the law. No matter how distasteful it was, it does not change the bottom line that he asked first."

Johnson said there was no doubt in Eaves' mind that they were consenting.

"She misunderstood the question, and he misunderstood the answer," Johnson said. "It is the communication breakdown that keeps him from knowing she wasn't consenting."

Johnson pointed out that Eaves stopped penetration to because he saw nothing was happening. Johnson also said that Eaves was completely clueless until after the assault, and when she said they should stick to her legs next time, he apologized alleged victim.

Jones asked the jury to think about whether a normal person insert their fingers in the victim.

"If she's getting a medical exam, and the doctor asks can he go further, that does not mean stick my hands in you. He was specific with all his questions except one. 'Can I go further?' She thought he meant her legs."

"He kept saying he was trying to pleasure her," Jones said. "The only person getting pleasure was Eaves."

Jones pointed out the victim had her eyes closed when the assault started and had no idea it was coming.

"Why would be lie to law enforcement?" Jones asked. "He did because he got caught."

After the jury deliberated on the case two hours, the judge sent them home for the night. Deliberation will resume Thursday morning.

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