Massage therapists working in Allendale and Saddle River were among five who recently had their licenses yanked by state authorities amid charges of rubbing certain customers the wrong way.
State authorities announced the charges to help lay the groundwork for proposed new rules that they said are aimed at “preventing and detecting sexual misconduct in the industry.”
The rules would, among other things:
- Require massage therapists to notify the state Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy of criminal, civil, administrative, and employment actions against them;
- Require massage therapists to report misconduct by others;
- Protect minors from abuse by requiring parents or legal guardians to provide written consent before any massage or bodywork services can be given to a client under 18 (For those under 16, the parent or guardian would have to be in the room).
Last year, the board permanently revoked the licenses of eight massage therapists statewide and filed orders of temporary or provisional suspensions against four others for alleged inappropriate sexual contact with clients.
Five more license revocations have gone down since January due to alleged sexual misconduct on the job, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs said.
Matthew Plotkin had his license revoked last month after he pleaded guilty to criminal sexual contact with a client during a massage therapy session at the Hand and Stone Spa in Allendale in March, they said.
Jose Calderon had his license was permanently revoked in March for allegedly inappropriately touching a client during a massage therapy session at the Body Positive Works in Saddle River in September 2018, Grewal and the division added in a release.
In addition, they said, Sean Pasculli had his license permanently revoked in March for allegedly inappropriately touching a client during a massage therapy session at Suzi’s Salon and Spa in Morristown in May 2017.
Leo Rodriguez also had his license permanently revoked in January for allegedly inappropriately touching a client during a massage therapy session at Body Balance Massage & Skincare in Hoboken in December 2016.
“New Jersey has zero tolerance for massage therapists who engage in sexual contact with their clients during massage therapy sessions,” Grewal said Tuesday. “We are revoking the licenses of massage therapists who violate the rules, but we aren’t stopping there. We also are taking action to strengthen the rules to increase protections for clients and to allow us to intervene more quickly when sexual misconduct is suspected.”
State authorities are “committed to protecting New Jersey consumers from predatory conduct and abuse at the hands of massage therapists,” said Paul R. Rodríguez, the Division of Consumer Affairs’ acting director. “We will maintain vigilant oversight of our licensees to preserve the professional integrity of our massage therapy industry and ensure that clients are treated with the respect and dignity they expect and deserve.”
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