Therapeutic massage therapists saved state certification for years after being charged with intercourse crimes | Information
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – Analysis by News4 Investigates shows that despite multiple complaints of inappropriate sexual behavior and even sex crimes, massage therapists have been convicted and massage therapists have retained their state licenses several months and even years later.
The analysis came after Tarek Mentouri’s arrest Tuesday, which was the subject of several News4 investigations into how many women accused him of sexually touching her or himself during massages or job interviews.
The massage therapist, at the center of a year-long News4 Investigates series accused by more than 15 women of sexually touching them or themselves during massages or job interviews, was arrested by Metro Police on Tuesday.
After News4 Investigates found that women filed complaints about Mentouri with the State Board of Massage Licenseure in 2017, but the state did not revoke its license until August 2020, it analyzed massage therapists worth five years through the state.
Fifteen women have come to News4 Investigates claiming similar, troubling stories of inappropriate sexual behavior resulting from massage therapy …
However, the state would not publish all complaints against massage therapists, and the only available complaints concerned those masseuses who were disciplined or whose licenses were revoked.
Our analysis found cases where massage therapists were charged with sex crimes and then continued to give massages for months before the state board revoked their license.
In one case, a massage therapist was charged with sexually injuring a woman during a massage. The woman described freezing in shock during the abuse.
The therapist was discharged on July 20, and it was three months before the state board revoked his license. During these three months, his disciplinary records show that he continued to practice massage therapy.
In another case, a massage therapist was accused of sexually injuring a woman in her hope in January 2018. It took the state board eight months to revoke his license.
News4 In 2014, investigators found repeated cases of massage therapists charged by police with sex crimes and had their license revoked two years later.
Faith Fairhope, a former member of the State Massage Licenseure Board, said the length of time between complaints or criminal charges and actions by the board was unacceptable.
“In my opinion, the perpetrator is more likely to be the one who is being protected,” said Fairhope.
Fairhope said when she left the board in 2012, she filed a complaint with a massage therapist.
Although she was a former board member, she said that even she could not get any information about the case.
“It took forever. You couldn’t get an update. And when it got resolved, you didn’t know how it was solved. Because they didn’t tell you and they said they couldn’t tell you. It was really frustrating” said Fairhope.
For five months, News4 Investigates has been asking for an interview with board members and the commissioner.
Among our questions: Is the state not getting data from the police in time? Do companies fail to report employee dismissals for sexual reasons in good time? Don’t they have enough investigators?
Our requests were repeatedly denied as none of the boards were available. We then asked to speak to the Commissioner herself and are waiting for an answer.
In an email, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health wrote: “Complaints are resolved at different speeds depending on the length and complexity of the examinations and the disciplinary procedure.”
“It must be so frustrating for the public to be protected,” Fairhope said.
That frustration is certainly shared by Kelly Cochrane, one of the first to file a complaint against Mentouri.
That year she received an email from Mentouri’s email address in which she partially read: “
I’m sorry to keep harassing you, but what other cyberstalker can bring so much entertainment to the world? “
“I haven’t had a massage in a Tennessee facility since then because you feel unsafe and no one will take the complaint seriously,” said Cochrane.
Some of the women who said they were sexually abused by Mentouri said their frustration resided in the state database itself. Even if a sex crime complaint has been filed with the police and the board, the public will not be aware of it until the board makes a decision.
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