GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — A former massage therapy instructor who was accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct has been sentenced.

The Great Falls Tribune reports 48-year-old Gene Watson was sentenced Friday to five years in state prison and a year and a half in the Cascade County jail. The terms will run consecutively.

Watson was first accused in 2014 while he worked at the Montana Academy of Salons, and about a dozen women made complaints that led to a lawsuit and the loss of his massage therapy license. Two other women came forward in January 2019 accusing Watson of raping them under the guise of legitimate massage therapy.

As part of a plea agreement, Watson entered an Alford plea to two counts of misdemeanor sexual assault and one count of felony sexual assault. He also will be labeled a sex offender.

Under an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges prosecutors have enough evidence to gain a conviction.

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