Tag: Hand and Stone Massage

The Steps to Take After Being Sexually Assaulted by a Massage Therapist

Massage Sexually assaulted

Attorney Adam Horowitz is among the most experienced attorneys in the country in representing survivors of sexual assault by massage therapists (otherwise known as masseurs or masseuses).  Our law firm has represented dozens of people sexually assaulted by massage therapists and obtained justice in countless cases against large national chain spas, luxury hotels, and local spas.  An explosive Buzzfeed News investigation in which Adam Horowitz was quoted blew the cover off the massage industry and exposed the fact that over 180 people had reported sexual misconduct at Massage Envy franchises nationwide.  Since that time, the number of abuse claimants has continued to soar.

We have handled sexual misconduct cases involving incidents at Massage Envy, Hand & Stone, Massage Green, Massage LuXe, Elements Massage, Massage Heights, and many other locations.  In some cases. we have represented multiple victims of a single massage therapist.  It is often the case that after one client comes forward with an account of assault and then additional victims of the same perpetrator gain the courage and strength to come forward as well.  There is strength in numbers and having the courage to expose your perpetrator may provide support to other victims in telling their story.

All sexual contact by massage therapists during a professional setting is prohibited.  For  instance, Section 480.0485, Florida Statutes, provides as follows:

Sexual misconduct in the practice of massage therapy. — The massage therapist-patient relationship is founded on mutual trust. Sexual misconduct in the practice of massage therapy means violation of the massage therapist-patient relationship through which the massage therapist uses that relationship to induce or attempt to induce the patient to engage, or to engage or attempt to engage the patient, in sexual activity outside the scope of practice or the scope of generally accepted examination or treatment of the patient. Sexual misconduct in the practice of massage therapy is prohibited.

In most jurisdictions, sexual contact by a massage therapist is a crime and can result in the massage therapist losing his professional license.  In addition to contacting a civil attorney to find out your rights in a lawsuit, there are others to whom you should also report a sexual assault by a massage therapist:

  1. Notify the police department or other law enforcement agency in the city where the massage occurred.  It is important that you report the assault in full detail to criminal authorities so that the massage therapist can be exposed and held criminally responsible where appropriate.  In criminal cases, there is a high burden of proof. Not every perpetrator will be criminally charged, but it is important to get the report on record. It could cost the therapist his job or prevent him from committing abuse in the future.
  2. Notify the Department of Health or other licensing agency in the state where the massage therapist is licensed. You should submit a report in writing detailing all inappropriate contact initiated by the massage therapist.  Remember — it is not your fault that the massage therapist touched you in a sexual manner and it is not your fault if you did not immediately stop the perpetrator.  It is also not your fault if you did not immediately report the incident while you were still figuring out how to process these events.  When you go into a massage, you are expecting a relaxing experience from a trained professional.  You are not expecting the massage therapist to initiate sexual contact.  In most jurisdictions, the Department of Health or Board of Massage Therapy will commence an investigation of the massage therapist upon receiving a sexual assault allegation.  The Department is authorized to impose a variety of remedies, ranging from removing a message therapist’s licenses to suspension to public reprimand.  Sanctions against a massage therapist may become a public record and you can protect other clients from being exposed to a potential sexual assault by reporting an assault to the Department of Health.
  3. Contact a therapist.  After a traumatic event such as being sexually assaulted during a massage, it is typical to have feelings of anxiety, stress, intrusive thoughts, depression, restlessness or fear, making it difficult to adjust or cope for some time afterwards. In particular, survivors of sexual trauma may experience severe feelings of anxiety, stress, or fear, known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). While it is natural to have some of these symptoms after a traumatic event, if they last more than a few weeks and become an ongoing problem, it might be PTSD. As important as it is to notify an attorney and civil authorities about a sexual trauma, there is no substitute for also receiving therapy from a trained professional.

If you have a been sexually assaulted in a spa or during a massage, or if you know someone who has, please contact our law firm at (954) 641-2100 or send an email to attorney Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com

EMERGENCY LICENSE RESTRICTION PLACED ON FORT MYERS MASSAGE THERAPIST FOR MULTIPLE SEXUAL ABUSE REPORTS

On July 28, 2020, the Florida Department of Health issued an Emergency Order Restricting the license of massage therapist, Joshua A. Lowman, following multiple allegations of sexual abuse. Lowman, who was subject to a previous sexual misconduct complaint  by the DOH involving an alleged assault at a spa in 2018, was a employed at Hand and Stone Massage located at 6891 Daniels Parkway Suite 115, Fort Myers, FL at the time of latest incidents of sexual assault alleged to have occurred on January 4, 2020.

According to the Emergency Order, on January 4, 2020, Lowman inappropriately touched at least two female clients multiple times throughout their respective massage appointments at Hand & Stone.  One woman, who had disrobed, with the exception of her underwear, laid face-down under a sheet, when Lowman rubbed the side of her breasts with his fingers. When she turned over on her back, Lowman’s body brushed up against her hands several times and she felt his erect penis. When she adjusted her position, she saw Lowman’s erect penis through his pants. As Lowman was massaging her legs, he touched her vaginal area several times.  When he moved on to her chest, he went under the sheet several times and touched her nipples. When the massage was over, the woman paid and waited for her friends to finish their massages.

On the same day, January 4, 2020, another female client disrobed with the exception of her underwear, laid face-down under a sheet. When Lowman’s body brushed up against her hands several times, she felt his erect penis. As Lowman was massaging her legs, she felt a part of his body on her clitoris. When she turned over and he started massaging her chest, he went under the sheet several times and touched her bare breast. When the massage was over, she paid and asked her friend if she had felt uncomfortable with Lowman. Both women reported what had happened to the police.

According to the Order, the Florida Department of Health deemed Lowman’s lack of moral character and blatant disregard for the law as an immediate and serious danger to the health, safety, or welfare of Florida citizens. The restriction of his license prohibits him from practicing massage therapy on female clients.

The stresses of life can easily overwhelm us. When patients book a massage, it is to decompress and relax. They trust that the massage therapists employed at the spa are carefully vetted and safe. It is for this reason regulating the practice of massage therapy is necessary. Any violation requires swift action, as it is both unacceptable and unlawful for any employee to touch a patient in a sexual manner. 

Horowitz Law has filed numerous sexual misconduct claims against massage therapists on behalf of clients who were inappropriately touched at massage parlors and other spas and resorts. If you have been a victim of sexual assault or sexual battery during a massage, or if you know someone who has, please contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com for a free consultation.

Bernard Torres massage Horowitz Law

Department of Health Restricts Hand and Stone Massage Therapist Due to Alleged Sexual Misconduct

The Florida Department of Health issued an Emergency Order on May 24, 2019 restricting the massage therapy license of Bernard Torres in response to female clients reporting Torres engaged in sexual misconduct during massage appointments.  The incidents were reported to have occurred at Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa, a massage establishment in Jacksonville.

The Department of Health found that Torres’ “unrestricted ability to provide massage services to female clients constitutes an immediate, serious danger to the health, safety, and welfare of the public.”  Bernard Torres has been licensed as a massage therapist in Florida since 2005.  Prior to this incident Torres was employed as a “lead massage therapist” at Hand and Stone in Jacksonville

According to the Department of Health’s Emergency Order, Torres was performing a massage on D.R., a 61 year old female on March 21, 2019.  While the patient was face-up, Torres moved the draping down to her hips exposing the client’s breasts without her consent. He then is alleged to have brushed his hands over the breasts several times and massaged her between the breasts.  The patient reported this activity to the managers of Hand and Stone as well as the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.  Prior to this alleged incident, Torres had been warned by Hand and Stone when a different female patient alleged that Torres exposed her breasts during a massage after numerous attempts to pull the draping up.

Clients of massage therapists are placed in isolated, vulnerable settings where they can be subject to abuse by their massage therapists. Due to the potential for abuse that is inherent under these circumstances, massage therapists must possess good judgment and good moral character in order to safely practice massage therapy.   Incidents such as this are a reminder that persons who may commit sexual misconduct work in all industries, even professions in which we typically place our blind trust.  All allegations of sexual abuse must be thoroughly investigated by law enforcement and employers must be especially vigilant in supervision and protection at all times.

Attorney Adam Horowitz is experienced in handling claims nationwide on behalf of victims of sexual assault by massage therapists, including at Hand and Stone and other national chains, spas, and hotels. You can reach Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com or call our law firm at (954) 641-2100.