A woman who accused a therapist of raping her during a therapy session has been awarded more than £200,000 in damages after winning a civil case against him.

Jess Warren, BBC News, PA Media News agency, 19 June 2024

Ella Janneh sued Michael Lousada, 57, over claims he raped and sexually assaulted her at his clinic in Belsize Park, London, in August 2016.

The High Court heard he said his penis was "like a laser beam" that could "burn up trauma" during the £750 session.

Ms Janneh, who waived her right to anonymity, launched the proceedings after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided not to press charges against him.

The court previously heard that Ms Janneh did not ask for or consent to the use of penile penetration as a "therapeutic technique".

Handing down the judgement, Mr Justice Jeremy Baker said the strength of evidence on behalf of Ms Janneh was "extremely strong".

'Eight-year fight'

In a statement issued through her solicitors, Ms Janneh said she has been "completely betrayed" by the police and the CPS.

"After an eight-year fight I'm proud to have achieved the beginnings of accountability against Mike Lousada and what he did to me. But it has taken everything in me to get here," she said.

"It is so deeply unfair that I, Mike Lousada's victim, had to sacrifice eight years in the hopes of stopping him from harming anyone else."

Ms Janneh added that she has "had to do the work of institutions that failed to support me", but hoped by "coming out publicly that I can encourage other victims to speak their truth no matter what".

Ms Janneh told the court she had visited Mr Lousada after suffering panic attacks during consensual sex because she was abused as a child.

She said she suffered a panic attack during the session, leaving her unable to communicate and "incapable of providing valid and informed consent" as a result.

Ms Janneh, who now lives in Melbourne, Australia, reported what happened to the Metropolitan Police a day later, but the case was dropped in May 2018, the court heard.

Mr Lousada, who has appeared as a guest on the ITV show This Morning, denied the allegations and said he repeatedly asked Ms Janneh if she wished to continue with the session.

In his ruling, Mr Justice Jeremy Baker said he had "no doubt" Ms Janneh was suffering a "full-blown dissociative panic attack" and that she "entirely lacked capacity" to consent to what took place.

He said that while her symptoms "would have been obvious", Mr Lousada "chose to ignore them", which was "motivated by the defendant's confidence in his own ability to heal women".

The judge continued: "Having listened with care to the defendant giving evidence in this case, I am satisfied that the scale of his confidence in his own abilities was such that his perception of reality became clouded by his sense of self-worth."

Ms Janneh brought civil action against Mr Lousada, where cases are ruled upon on "the balance of probabilities", as opposed to criminal prosecutions, which require a higher standard of proof "beyond reasonable doubt".

This meant she needed to prove that it was more likely than not that she did not give consent to the sexual activity, rather than prove that Mr Lousada did not reasonably believe that she did not consent.

Her legal action was for damages over claims of assault, trespass to the person, and negligence against Mr Lousada and Anteros Books Ltd, a company he directed.

Barristers for Mr Lousada, who now lives in Germany, said he had previously engaged in penile penetration with about "30 to 40" clients.

Following the High Court's ruling, a spokesperson for the CPS said: "In criminal cases we must prove beyond reasonable doubt that an individual is guilty.

"Following a careful review of the evidence in this case, we concluded there was not a realistic prospect of conviction – a decision later supported by two independent reviews."

The Met Police said it was aware of the outcome of the civil case and would assess any new information that was presented in the process.

It also confirmed there is currently no active police investigation in the case.

Cdr Kevin Southworth, who leads on public protection, said: "We strive to deliver the best service we can and take allegations of rape and sexual assault seriously, so it’s concerning whenever we hear that someone feels let down.

"We have not received any complaints about this investigation but would welcome the chance to discuss this further so we can understand and address any concerns."