A massage therapist in Boynton Beach was arrested last week based on allegations that he sexually assaulted a customer at a massage business called Healing Hands of Judah. 38-year-old Berhane Tafari Oliver has been charged with one count of sexual assault. He was released from the Palm Beach County Jail last Thursday after he posted a $25,000 bond.
The alleged assault occurred September 6 of this year at Healing Hands of Judah, located at Federal Highway and Southeast First Avenue. A 29-year-old victim told Boynton Beach police that Oliver inappropriately touched her during a massage appointment.
On September 11, police held a controlled call and listened as the victim asked Oliver why he assaulted her. Oliver apologized and said, "I thought you wanted me to. I misunderstood."
The victim then made plans to meet Oliver at Healing Hands of Judah that day. Boynton Beach police waited for him there and arrested him when he arrived.
According to the police, Oliver admitted to touching the woman inappropriately - saying that he "misread" the victim.
Michael Haggard is an attorney who specializes in helping the victims of sexual violence get the justice and support they deserve. He's offered to add some input into the legal options available to the survivors of sex abuse at massage spas:
Sexual assault by massage therapists is a nationwide problem. With the popularity of massage therapy surging, more and more facilities have been opening up throughout the country. Unfortunately, some of these businesses hire massage therapists who turn out to be sexual predators who abuse their positions of trust to assault their clients.
A 2017 investigative report by BuzzFeed News revealed that over 180 people have accused massage therapists at nationwide chain Massage Envy of sexual assault. Additionally, massage therapists at smaller massage therapy businesses have also been arrested for sexual assault. Many of these victims have been fighting back by filing lawsuits against the businesses where the assaults occurred.
Taking legal action against a massage business for sexual assault can help provide financial compensation for victims, along with demanding accountability from these businesses for the negligence that allowed these assaults to occur. If you've been sexually assaulted by a massage therapist and are curious about your legal options, we recommend discussing your case with an experienced sexual assault victims lawyer.