A hypnotist’s assistant has walked free from court this lunchtime (Wednesday) after a jury cleared him of sexually assaulting a woman in a pub beer garden after a show.
Self-styled hypnotherapist Steven Vallo, 67, had been helping out a professional comedy hypnotist with his show at a pub in Calderdale last summer, but he found himself charged with sexual assault after he attempted to recreate one of his feats.
Bradford Crown Court heard how Vallo, who helps people to quit smoking and lose weight, was approached by the woman after the show and asked to hypnotise her so she could experience the feelings of sexual pleasure that her partner had enjoyed after being put under by Mr Lee.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, alleged that during the session in the darkened beer garden of the pub Vallo put his hand up her dress, brushing her vagina over her underwear, and also kissed her twice on the lips.
Vallo, who has been practising hypnotherapy for 25 years but is not a member of any official organisation, denied three charges of sexual assault over the incident and told the jury: “I’m a healer not a feeler.”
After just over two hours of deliberation the jury of ten women and two men unanimously cleared Vallo on all three charges.
Vallo told the jury that the woman was insistent about being put under and he said OK we’ll give it a go.
He said his initial attempt to hypnotise the woman was interrupted by another pub-goer shouting “wake up” at the top of his voice.
Vallo suggested that they should call it a day, but the woman said she wanted to start again.
He said he then used a different technique which involved the woman choosing “the man of her dreams” and she selected the “Fifty Shades of Grey” character Christian Grey.
Vallo said the woman was obviously into the character and started to make noises consistent with love-making.
“She was rubbing herself between her legs with her hands,” he added.
Vallo admitted that he had given the woman a “peck”, but insisted he was simply saying good night and thank you before going to meet two other people who wanted to see him about quitting smoking.
He accepted that the woman had not in fact been hypnotised during the session that night, but he insisted he had not put his hand up her dress.
During cross-examination Vallo, a married man of Alder Grove, Illingworth, denied “talking dirty” to the woman and rejected suggestions that he had taken advantage of the complainant and touched her sexually.
The woman alleged that when Vallo put his hand up her dress her heart started racing and she felt scared.
“Did you feel able to say anything?” asked Mr Askins.
“No,” replied the woman.
The woman suggested that she “froze” and was unable to speak out or walk away.
One of the woman’s friends told the jury that when she came back into the pub she was not her normal self and later told them: “He’s touched me up.”