July 18, 2016

BREAKING NEWS: New Law Would Require Massage Spas to Report Assault

If you’ve been keeping up with our blog, you might be familiar with the conviction of a massage therapist at a local Massage Envy spa of sexually assaulting nine women. In response to the situation that led to one of these assaults in particular, the Duty to Report Sexual Assault Act of 2016 has been introduced by U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-7, of Media joined with co-sponsor U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass.

In this instance, a 56-year-old woman was sexually assaulted by James R. Deiter of Chester County at the West Goshen Massage Envy location. After reporting this assault to the police, it was discovered that another client had complained to the spa just a few months earlier that he had molested her. Deiter was suspended for one week following this initial incident, and it was never reported to police. Under the proposed legislation, employees and owners of massage spas and therapeutic practices would be responsible for reporting allegations of sexual assault of clients.

“The sickening truths is, American women have a 1-in-4 chance of being sexually assaulted in their lifetimes,” said Clark, the co-sponsor, to the Daily Local. “When sexual violence persists at such a daunting scale, we all bear the weight and responsibility of it as a national injustice. The Duty to Report Sexual Assault Act is a small, but important step to ensure businesses and our criminal justice system are working in tandem to report and prevent sexual assault.”

Additionally, a conviction would result in a $1,500 fine and up to six months in federal prison. Although the bill requires incidents to be reported, it does not require police to investigate or charge a therapist unless asked to do so by the alleged victim.

LUONGO BELLWOAR LLP along with Laffey, Bucci & Kent represent eight of Deiter’s nine victims in a civil lawsuit awaiting trial. The Daily Local quoted our Thomas Bellwoar’s response to the legislation:

“The bill introduced by Congressman Meehan is a necessary step forward for the protection of individuals from businesses who place the importance of company profit over the safety and well-being of their clients and customers,” Bellwoar said Friday. “It is a logical and common-sense way to ensure that the complaints and reports of victims of inappropriate conduct or sexual assault will be taken seriously by businesses and reported to the proper authorities.”

For more information on the proposed bill, please read the full article on the Daily Local. If you’ve been a victim of sexual assault by a massage therapist, visit this page for more information on reporting the crime and your legal options.