Massage Therapist Charged with Sexual Penetration by Force
Police in Newhall arrested a massage therapist at the Stretch Healing Spa on Wednesday after a customer accused him of sexually assaulting her during an appointment. 54-year-old Jorge Panama was arrested by deputies with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station at around 7 p.m.
According to a sergeant with the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department Special Victims Bureau, the victim was receiving a massage from the suspect at Stretch Healing Spa at around 4 p.m. on Wednesday. She told deputies that Panama sexually assaulted her during the massage.
Deputies visited the spa and conducted an on-scene investigation. Afterward, they arrested Panama, who was still on location at the facility on the 22000 block of Lyons Avenue.
Panama has been charged with sexual penetration by force, which is a felony. His bail has been set at $100,000. The investigation is still ongoing.
Legal Recourse For Survivors of Massage Therapist Sexual Assault
Brian Kent of AbuseGuardian.com has experience helping survivors of massage therapist sexual assault file lawsuits, including against high-profile companies like Massage Envy. We have asked him to contribute some information on the legal options available to these survivors:
Massage therapy has become extremely popular in recent years, and with this surge in popularity, there have also been many reports of massage therapist sexual assault. In a 2017 report by BuzzFeed news, reporters found over 180 cases of sexual assault allegations against Massage Envy employees. Many of these survivors have been fighting back by filing lawsuits against companies like Massage Envy and smaller massage businesses for failing to keep their customers safe from sexual assault.
In many cases, massage therapy facilities and companies have contributed to these sexual assaults through negligence, such as failing to report complaints of sexual abuse to police or permitting massage therapists to continue working even after being accused of sexual misconduct. In these cases, those who have been sexually abused likely have strong cases for lawsuits against the facility.
If you’ve been sexually assaulted by a massage therapist and would like to learn more about your legal options, we advise speaking to one of our experienced sexual assault survivors lawyers.