Last Update: 7/13/2020
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.
Bobby Thompson has experience helping victims who have been sexually assaulted during a massage in filing 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. Surprisingly, massage therapy facilities often contribute to sexual assaults through negligence like not reporting complaints. In these cases, those who have been sexually abused likely have strong cases for lawsuits against the facility,” Mr. Thompson explained.