When Massages Go Wrong: The Legal Aftermath of Sexual Assault

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Massage therapy can help you relax and address stiffness, aches, and pains. Although massage parlor rules are in place to protect clients, cases of sexual molestation and inappropriate sexual behavior can happen.

If you’ve been subjected to sexual misconduct by someone performing therapeutic massage, you have legal recourse. Read on to learn more about sexual assault during massage treatments and what you can do to take legal action.

Florida Massage Therapy Laws and Rules

Florida has established strict laws to protect people during massage treatments. The laws and regulations state that there should be no verbal or physical sexual activity outside the scope of professional practice. If massage therapists violate this law, clients can report the matter to law enforcement and consult sexual assault attorneys.

What Is Considered Sexual Assault by Definition?

Sexual assault statistics are staggering. Nearly 81% of women and 43% of men report experiencing sexual harassment and/or sexual assault during their lifetimes.

When looking at stats for sexual assault, you may wonder, “What is considered sexual assault, anyway?” A simple sexual assault definition is ‘touching someone for sexual gratification without receiving consent.’ 

You may also be wondering what sexual misconduct is. Sexual assault falls under the definition of sexual misconduct but can also include threats of sexual violence and verbal sexual harassment.

Examples of Sexually Inappropriate Behavior During a Massage

Someone subjected to sexual misconduct during a massage treatment may be unsure of whether what happened to them fits the definition of massage sexual assault. The following are some examples of inappropriate behavior that may take place during a massage.

Contact with the Genitals

Under Florida massage laws and rules, a massage therapist cannot make contact with your genitals regardless of your gender and the gender of the massage therapist. In other words, sexual assault by a massage therapist can include a male practitioner touching a male client’s genitals or a female practitioner making contact with a female client’s genitals.

Caressing Inner Buttocks or Upper Thighs

In some cases, the upper thighs or outer buttocks may be worked as a part of a massage therapy treatment. However, caressing the inner buttocks area or lingering for long periods of time on the upper thighs can introduce sexual assault into a massage. Generally, a massage therapist should ask for permission or check that you are comfortable if they do need to touch your buttocks or upper thighs.

Non-Consensual Touching of Breasts

As with the buttocks and upper thighs, the breasts are sometimes included in a massage therapy treatment. However, a massage therapist should always receive consent from a client before touching this area and should not fondle or caress the breasts beyond what is necessary to perform a massage.

Verbal Sexual Harassment

You don’t have to be sexually assaulted by a massage therapist to have endured sexual misconduct. Verbal sexual harassment that takes place during a massage is also something that you may wish to speak to a Florida sexual assault attorney about.

What Legal Action Can Be Taken?

A massage therapist who engages in sexual misconduct could be charged with one or more of the following felonies under Florida law: 

How to Report Massage Sexual Misconduct

If you’ve been subjected to sexual misconduct during a massage, consider following these steps in order to file a report.

Gather Evidence

After the assault, don’t shower or wash your clothing. Try not to use the restroom or wash your hands. Following these tips can preserve evidence beneficial for prosecuting an offender. You should also keep any emails, texts, phone messages, and receipts related to the incident and your appointment.

Open Case with Florida Law Enforcement

As soon as you can, contact your local police. Be prepared to describe the event in detail. You may wish to contact a Florida sexual assault lawyer first and have them accompany you to the police station.

File Complaint with Florida Board of Massage Therapy

Next, file a complaint with the Florida Board of Massage Therapy. You can download a form from the enforcement website or call 1-888-419-3456 to request a form.

Contact a Sexual Assault Lawyer

A sexual assault lawyer can help you navigate the reporting process. In addition, a sexual assault victim attorney can help you pursue a civil case to attempt to get compensation for that act that occurred.

If you’re ready to conduct an online search for “sexual assault attorneys near me” in Florida, Steinberg Law can help. Contact us today for a consultation.