| Aug 31, 2020 | Massage Therapists



The end of August 2020 brings with it the end of yet another New Jersey massage therapist’s career. As a result of “inappropriate and unwanted sexual contact” with a client, the state Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy permanently revoked the license of the ninth massage therapist since July 2019.

Earlier this year, John R. Popper, 48, of Little Egg Harbor was convicted of harassment by offensive touching for placing his hand on a client’s vagina during a massage at Hand and Stone spa located at 277 New Road in Somers Point. The client reported the incident immediately after her appointment with Popper in 2017.

He “engaged in professional misconduct and committed a crime of moral turpitude,” said New Jersey state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal.

The many recent allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse by licensees has prompted a review of the 51 professional boards under New Jersey’s Division of Consumer Affairs. Overseeing 720,000 active licensed professionals, from accountants and doctors to plumbers, and massage therapists, the attorney general said, the goal is to ensure boards uniformly adopt best practices and enforce their rules.

“No client or patient should ever have to fear for their personal safety while interacting with a licensed professional in this state,” Grewal said. “By revoking the licenses of massage therapists who prey on their clients, the [state] is carrying out its duty to protect the public.”

In a Final Order filed on Aug. 25, 2020, the Board concluded that Popper’s conduct was “so egregious and morally reprehensible, and so fundamentally at odds with anything that we would expect of a massage therapist that nothing short of permanent revocation would be sufficient to protect the public health, safety and welfare.”

The Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy has adopted new rules to help prevent and detect sexual misconduct and abuse in the industry, Grewal said.

Some of those rules include:

  • Requiring massage therapists to notify the board of criminal, civil, administrative, and employment actions against them
  • Require massage therapists to report misconduct by others
  • Protect minors from abuse

Now more than ever, the stresses of life can easily overwhelm us. When patients book a massage, it is to decompress and relax. They trust that the massage therapists employed at the spa are carefully vetted and safe. It is for this reason regulating the practice of massage therapy is necessary. Any violation requires swift action, as it is both unacceptable and unlawful for any employee to touch a patient in a sexual manner.

Horowitz Law has filed numerous sexual misconduct claims against massage therapists on behalf of clients who were inappropriately touched at massage parlors and other spas and resorts. If you have been a victim of sexual assault or sexual battery during a massage, or if you know someone who has, please contact our law firm at 888-283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at [email protected] for a free consultation.