Attorney Commentary: In the second part of this article, massage therapist sexual assault lawyer Michael Haggard discusses the legal rights of those who have been sexually assaulted by massage therapists.
A former massage therapist at Ocean Elements Day Spa in Santa Rosa Beach was arrested in August 2019 for allegedly sexually battering a female client at the spa.
Deputies responded to a complaint at the spa on August 9. The woman told deputies that she went to the spa the day before for a massage and that 49-year-old massage therapist James Vonderheide inappropriately touched her breasts and vaginal area during the massage.
According to a news release, the victim went home after the alleged assault and told her husband about it. Later that day, the husband visited the spa to file a complaint for sexual misconduct and asked to speak to a manager and another employee.
Vonderheide reportedly said that he could act as the manager. He reportedly admitted to the assault and apologized. The husband then left the spa and called the police.
Vonderheid was arrested and charged with sexual battery and battery.
Attorney contributor Michael Haggard has represented several victims of massage therapist sexual assault in civil lawsuits. Michael has offered to share some info on the legal rights of these victims:
Massage therapy has exploded in popularity in recent years, but sadly, so have reports of massage therapists sexually assaulting clients. Victims have filed lawsuits, police reports, and complaints about sexual assaults at spas throughout the country. The owners of spas and massage studios must take this widespread issue seriously.
When a massage therapist is arrested for sexually assaulting a client, the spa where the assault happened should also be investigated. Some cases of massage therapist sexual assault only happen due to negligence - such as hiring a massage therapist with a history of sexual misconduct. In cases of negligence, victims may have grounds for a lawsuit.
If you or a loved one has been sexually assaulted by a massage therapist, you can learn more about your legal options in a free consultation with one of our experienced sexual assault victim lawyers.