Washington, DC – Republican Congressman Patrick Meehan introduced a bill cosponsored by Massachusetts Rep. Katherine Clark from the Democratic Party which would create penalties for massage establishment owners and employees who fail to report knowledge or reasonable suspicion of sexual assault.
- The bill targets owners or employees of a massage establishment who knows or reasonably suspects that another employee of the massage establishment sexually assaulted another person on the premises
- This would include an employee who while performing services of the massage establishment who sexual assaults a customer
- Failure to report the incident or suspicion to the appropriate law enforcement agency would result in criminal charges
- If the owner of the establishment fails to display the policies and procudures relating to sexual assault prevention and response, in a manner that is is visible to customers, may also be penalized
“Often, abusers become repeat offenders, assaulting multiple women while working at the same massage facility. But in some cases, massage facility owners are reluctant to report allegations of misconduct among their employees. Some just don’t know what to do or how to respond. Others may fear the negative publicity that would accompany an investigation by law enforcement. Reporting alleged assault will help victims understand their rights, like pursuing an investigation and pressing charges, and the resources available, such as local sexual assault programs,” Meehan said.
- In the last several months alone, for example, massage therapists in Oregon, Connecticut, Florida, Colorado, Michigan and other states have been accused or convicted of sexual misconduct
- A conviction would result in a fine of $1,500 and the possibility of six months in federal prison
- The bill does not require law enforcement to investigate or charge an individual with sexual assault unless directed by the alleged victim
- West Goshen Massage Envy in Pennsylvania had an incident where the masseuse was found guilty and sentenced to 6 1/2 to 13 years in state prison on three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault, and six counts of indecent assault, a misdemeanor. The perpetrator must also register as a sexual offender for life