Accused Massage Therapist Settled Previous Sexual Assault Complaint
Investigators in Traverse City have discovered that the massage therapist accused of sexually assaulting a client at Loving Hands Massage and Spa settled a similar complaint in 2005.
In August 2018, a woman told police that 54-year-old Jeffery Warren Knapp inappropriately touched her during a massage at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. Grand Traverse County sheriff’s deputies investigated the allegations and prosecutors eventually charged Knapp with fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. This charge was later upgraded to third-degree CSC, which is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
During the investigation into this complaint, prosecutors found information regarding a similar incident from 2005. In this case, another woman claimed that Knapp groped her breast during a massage at Grand Traverse Resort that year. Knapp and the woman settled out of court to avoid a trial.
The trial for the most recent allegations has been scheduled to begin on January 29 or 30. Prosecutors included the 2005 allegation in their trial case at a hearing on Friday, January 18.
According to a spokesperson for Loving Hands Massage and Spa, Knapp was a private contractor who paid to bring clients to the facility, where he would perform massages. That person said Knapp was not an employee of the business.
Legal Recourse for Survivors of Massage Therapist Sexual Assault
Attorney contributor Brian Kent of AbuseGuardian.com is a former sex crimes prosecutor who now represents survivors of sexual violence in civil cases. His law firm, Laffey, Bucci & Kent, has helped dozens of survivors take legal action against massage businesses for sexual assault by massage therapists. We’ve asked Brian to add some thoughts on the legal options available to survivors of massage therapist sexual assault.
Sexual misconduct by massage therapists has become a major problem in the United States, with hundreds of allegations made by customers at various businesses throughout the country. Massage therapists are expected to conduct themselves professionally and to treat their clients with respect, but this is unfortunately not always the case. While the vast majority of these professionals are trustworthy people, a few are sexual predators who take advantage of their clients’ trust to sexually assault them.
When a massage therapist sexually assaults a customer, there are many concerns to consider. First, the perpetrator must be arrested and prosecuted. The victim must also get the support they need. Additionally, the business where the assault occurred may be held liable if their negligence allowed the assault to occur – such as hiring a new employee without first conducting a background check which could have revealed a past history of sexual assault. In cases that involve negligence, the victims may have grounds for a lawsuit.
If you or a loved one is a survivor of massage therapist sexual assault, you can learn more about your legal options by speaking to one of our experienced sexual assault survivors lawyers.