Massage Therapist Accused of Sexual Abuse Faces New Rape Charges
In April 2018, the Great Falls Tribune published an investigative report which revealed several allegations of sexual assault by massage therapist Gene Watson. Following that article, several more women came forward with their own allegations of sexual misconduct at the Montana Academy of Salons and the Malmstrom Air Force Base fitness center.
According to a January 8, 2019 story in the Great Falls Tribune, the Cascade County Attorney’s Office confirmed that Watson has now been charged with two felony counts of sexual intercourse without consent.
According to court documents:
In June 2014, an active duty military member filed a complaint with the Malmstrom Office of Special Investigations, alleging that she had been sexually assaulted while receiving a massage at the Malmstorm gym. The MOSI then contacted the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office. The complaint says that the woman scheduled a one-hour massage with Watson on May 30, 2014. She says that Watson touched her inappropriately during this massage.
Two more victims came forward in August 2014 and reported similar incidents during massages with Watson. One woman said that Watson made sexual comments and touched her inappropriately during massages.
After the April article in the Great Falls Tribune, two more women came forward and said that Watson had raped them. The first victim cited two incidents in February and April 2014. In the second case, in June 2018 the sheriff’s office received information of an alleged rape at Watson’s Malmstrom office.
According to the affidavit, another 12 women have alleged that Watson was sexually inappropriate with them, including sexual statements, unwanted physical touching, and exposing himself to students at the Montana Academy of Salons.
If convicted, Watson faces up to life in prison for each count.
Legal Recourse for Victims of Massage Therapist Sexual Assault
Attorney Brian Kent of AbuseGuardian.com helps survivors of sexual violence find the justice and support they deserve in civil court. Here is some insight from Brian regarding the legal options available to those who have been sexually assaulted by massage therapists:
Massage therapy requires a high degree of trust between the professional and their client. While most massage therapists are honorable people, a handful are sexual predators who exploit this trust in order to sexually abuse their clients. These predators must be criminally prosecuted for their crimes and their victims must get the support and justice they deserve. Additionally, when a massage business’ negligence results in a failure to protect customers from abuse, the victims can hold the business accountable by filing a lawsuit.
For example, a massage business might be considered negligent if they failed to report allegations of sexual misconduct to the police or failed to run a background check before hiring a new employee.
If you or a loved one is a survivor of massage therapist sexual assault, your family may be able to find justice in the legal system. Contact one of our experienced sexual assault survivors attorneys to learn more about your legal options.
Location of the Montana Academy of Salons