West Chester, PA (PRWEB) July 27, 2016 -- Due to recently introduced legislation, employees and owners of massage spas and therapeutic practices could soon be legally required to report allegations of sexual abuse against clients. The Duty to Report Sexual Assault Act of 2016, introduced by U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-7, of Media, and joined with co-sponsor U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass, was drafted in response to an assault local to West Chester.
In May, a former employee of the West Goshen Massage Envy spa, James R. Deiter, was sentenced to 6.5-13 years in prison after pleading guilty to the sexual assaults of nine women (Court of Common Pleas of Chester County Incident Nos. 201508622, 2015 08622 A, 201508622B). The first victim to report an assault to law enforcement did so in March 2015, and inspired the creation of this proposed law (Incident No. 201508622).
When police investigated the abuse allegations made by the specific victim mentioned above (Incident No. 201508622), it was discovered that this was not his first altercation with a client. Another woman had complained to the spa just a few months earlier that Deiter had molested her during a session. He was suspended for one week following that complaint, and the spa never reported the incident to police. Law enforcement was only made aware of that complaint during an interview with Deiter regarding the March 2015 allegations, and the interview was transcribed in court documents (Incident No. 201508622).
Luongo Bellwoar LLP along with Laffey, Bucci & Kent represent eight plaintiffs in a civil lawsuit against Deiter and Massage Envy Spa awaiting trial (Case ID: 150703385). The Daily Local quoted attorney Thomas Bellwoar's response to the legislation:
“The bill introduced by Congressman Meehan is a necessary step forward for the protection of individuals from businesses who place the importance of company profit over the safety and well-being of their clients and customers,” Bellwoar said. “It is a logical and common-sense way to ensure that the complaints and reports of victims of inappropriate conduct or sexual assault will be taken seriously by businesses and reported to the proper authorities.”
Additionally, a conviction would result in a $1,500 fine and up to six months in federal prison. Although the bill requires incidents to be reported, it does not require police to investigate or charge a therapist unless asked to do so by the alleged victim.
“The sickening truths is, American women have a 1-in-4 chance of being sexually assaulted in their lifetimes,” said Clark, the co-sponsor, to the Daily Local. “When sexual violence persists at such a daunting scale, we all bear the weight and responsibility of it as a national injustice. The Duty to Report Sexual Assault Act is a small, but important step to ensure businesses and our criminal justice system are working in tandem to report and prevent sexual assault.”
Luongo Bellwoar LLP is a strong supporter of the Duty to Report Sexual Assault Act. The firm encourages any victims of sexual assault by massage therapists throughout the country to report the crimes to law enforcement and contact a lawyer immediately.
About Luongo Bellwoar LLP
Luongo Bellwoar LLP is a Chester County, PA law firm that represents the rights of crime victims in the civil justice system. Attorneys Stanley E. Luongo, Jr. and Thomas B. Bellwoar have over 45 years of combined experience in the practice of law. The law firm is located in downtown West Chester. Learn more at CrimeVictimsPA.com.
Tom Bellwoar, Luongo Bellwoar LLP, http://crimevictimspa.com/, +1 610-696-1200, [email protected]