According to AZ Family, a massage therapist has been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting multiple women in Gilbert and Queen Creek. Raul Perez Ochoa, a 45-year-old masseuse, allegedly engaged in inappropriate conduct with four women while working at two different spas; El Bella Day Spa, located at 3303 E Queen Creek Rd, Gilbert, AZ 85297, and Hand & Stone Day Spa, located at 20784 E Victoria Ln, Queen Creek, AZ 85142.
The first incident was reported on February 22, 2023, when a woman contacted the Gilbert police, claiming that Ochoa assaulted her during her massage appointment at El Bella Day Spa. According to the victim, it was her first visit to the spa, where she was instructed to undress down to her underwear. Disturbingly, Ochoa allegedly partially pulled down her underwear and touched her inappropriately on multiple occasions. The victim managed to end the session by fabricating an excuse and subsequently contacted the spa to report the incident, providing a detailed description of Ochoa. She also attempted to confront Ochoa directly but was unsuccessful in reaching him.
Another incident on May 13 involved a different customer at El Bella Day Spa. During her third appointment with Ochoa, the victim claimed that he groped her and even laid on top of her. Despite her efforts to cover herself with the sheet, Ochoa allegedly persisted in his inappropriate behavior before finally leaving the room. However, it is worth noting that her previous two appointments with Ochoa were reportedly uneventful.
A separate incident took place on October 3, 2022, at Hand & Stone Day Spa in Queen Creek. A woman reported being sexually assaulted by Ochoa during her massage appointment. According to the victim's statement, she had previously undergone two sessions with Ochoa without any issues. However, during the third appointment, Ochoa allegedly grabbed her and subjected her to sexual assault, leaving her immobilized and helpless. Another customer from Queen Creek reported Ochoa's inappropriate behavior during her session but did not file any charges against him.
Following the multiple complaints, Ochoa was terminated by the spa where he worked. On Tuesday, he was apprehended by the authorities as he was heading to work at the Gilbert spa. Ochoa, who refused to cooperate with investigators, now faces charges including four counts of sexual abuse, two counts of sexual assault, one count of kidnapping, and one count of assault.
Hand & Stone reached out to The Legal Herald to provide the following comment on this story:
In October 2022, six months prior to his arrest, the massage therapist’s employment with Hand & Stone Massage & Facial Spa ended. The accused is not permitted to return to the spa. Hand & Stone will continue to cooperate with authorities in their investigation. The Queen Creek Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa is an independently owned and operated franchise location.
Hand & Stone has a zero-tolerance policy related to inappropriate behavior at all locations. Franchisees adhere to a rigorous spa safety program designed to prioritize the safety of its guests and service providers. All franchise locations are trained on strict hiring and screening tools, therapist training and prevention, reporting and investigation policies.
Additionally, all Hand & Stone guests are provided with a Customer Bill of Rights when they enter the spa and are informed by the massage therapist that an attention button exists under the table if they or the therapist becomes uncomfortable. Ultimately, Hand & Stone has an uncompromising commitment to creating and maintaining a safe and respectful environment for its guests and service providers.
-- Attribution: Hand & Stone Spokesperson
Attorney contributor Kevin Biniazan is an experienced lawyer who specializes in sexual abuse cases within the state of Arizona. He has helped many victims sexually assaulted by a massage therapist. Recently, he shared how experienced attorneys can help protect the rights of those sexually abused by a massage therapist.
"In recent years, the spa and wellness industry has experienced a surge in the number of sexual assault cases involving massage therapists. These incidents not only violate the trust and physical boundaries of the victims but also highlight the duty of spas to provide a safe environment for their clients. As an attorney dedicated to fighting for the rights of those who have suffered sexual abuse, it is crucial to shed light on this issue and discuss the legal rights available to victims.
Massage therapy is intended to promote relaxation, relieve stress, and improve one's overall well-being. Unfortunately, some individuals in this profession have abused their position of trust, subjecting clients to unspeakable acts of sexual assault. Such actions can have severe and long-lasting effects on the victims, including physical injuries, emotional trauma, and a loss of trust in others.
Spas have a legal obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of their clients. This duty encompasses implementing reasonable measures to prevent foreseeable harm, including sexual abuse, by their employees or contractors, such as massage therapists. Spas must exercise due diligence when hiring and supervising these professionals. This includes implementing comprehensive policies and procedures to screen employees, enforce appropriate boundaries, promptly respond to complaints, and provide ongoing training to ensure the safety and well-being of their clients.
When a spa fails to fulfill its duty to protect clients from sexual assault, it may be held liable for the harm suffered by the victims. Legal avenues are available for those who have been sexually abused during a massage to seek justice and compensation for their damages. Victims can pursue both civil and criminal remedies, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Victims can file lawsuits against a negligent spa, seeking monetary compensation for their physical and emotional injuries, medical expenses, therapy costs, loss of earnings, and other damages.
It is essential for victims of massage therapist assault to seek legal representation promptly. An experienced attorney specializing in sexual abuse cases can guide them through the legal process, protect their rights, and advocate for the justice and compensation they deserve."