Today, the Springfield News-Leader published an investigative report into a Springfield, Missouri massage therapist who has had multiple individuals accuse him of sexual misconduct. Rod Buckner has practiced massage and yoga in Springfield for over 20 years, even though he has been the subject of sexual assault allegations dating back to at least 1997. While some of the victims have contacted the police and investigations have been started, no criminal charges have ever been filed.
Police records show evidence of at least three formal complaints filed against Buckner:
Additionally, a graduate student at Missouri State University filed a complaint with the school's Title IX offices in January 2018, accusing him of inappropriate conduct outside of his work duties. In March, that student filed a police report claiming that Buckner had acted inappropriately for years, including one incident where he allegedly touched her genitals during a massage.
It's unknown if Buckner is still a practicing massage therapist.
Attorney contributor Reed Martens has offered some thoughts on the legal rights of sexual assault victims:
The professional relationship between a massage therapist and their clients is built on trust. These professionals are trained to use their hands to help our bodies heal, but a small minority of massage therapists exploit this trust and sexually abuse their patients. It's normal for survivors of these crimes to freeze up during the assault and hesitate to take legal action afterwards. However, there is legal recourse for the victims of sexual abuse by trusted professionals.
An experienced victims rights lawyer can help you hold accountable the perpetrator and any third parties who enabled them. Sometimes employers can be held liable when an employee commits sexual abuse if that employer did not do enough to reasonably minimize the risk of such abuse. For example, an employer who failed to do a background check and hired a sex offender as a massage therapist could be held liable for damages if the victim decides to file a lawsuit.
Sexual abuse lawsuits are complex and determining liability is complicated. This is why it's important for survivors to consider speaking with an experienced victims rights lawyer in order to gain a full understanding of their legal options.