HEALTH DEPARTMENT DISCIPLINES ORLANDO MASSAGE THERAPIST AFTER MULTIPLE SEXUAL MISCONDUCT REPORTS
On Friday, November 20, 2020, the Florida Department of Health ordered the emergency restriction of the license of massage therapist, Andres Lopez Ramirez, prohibiting his practice of massage therapy on female clients in the State of Florida. The Emergency Order was entered in response to four sexual misconduct complaints by clients at three different business locations. The incidents of sexual assault allegedly occurred at the Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa of Lake Nona, South Park Chiropractic in Orlando, and J. Sterling’s Essential Spa in Winter Park. Lopez Ramirez has been a licensed massage therapist since March 2017.
In February 2020, Lopez Ramirez performed a full body massage on a 33-year old female client he had seen several times in the past at Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa of Lake Nona in Orlando. The session started with her lying face down as usual. During the massage, he instructed her to turn over on her back. Laying face up, he failed to place the sheet high enough to cover her breasts, leaving them completely exposed according to the Order. He reportedly then began rubbing the woman’s breasts, without her consent, leaving her shocked and paralyzed with fear. In early March 2020, Lopez Ramirez resigned from Hand & Stone of Lake Nona. On March 12, the woman went back to the spa and reported that he had touched her inappropriately during the massage.
In June 2020, Lopez Ramirez worked at South Park Chiropractic, when he treated a 52-year old woman he had seen multiple times in the past. The massage started as usual with her laying face down on her stomach. He began massaging her leg, with each stroke getting higher and higher until he reached her inner thigh. Lopez Ramirez went further and touched her vaginal area with his hand. He then grabbed her. The woman was stunned and just looked at him in shock. He left the room, she got dressed, paid for the massage and quickly left.
On June 9, 2020, a 48-year old woman and her son arrived at South Park Chiropractic in Orlando for a massage booked prior to her readjustment appointment. She told Lopez Ramirez of the pain she was experiencing in her right arm and index finger and the sciatic pain on her left side. The massage started as usual with her laying face down. He started massaging her back, legs and hips. He then allegedly adjusted her left leg, but failed to re-secure the sheet leaving her vaginal area exposed. As he continued to massage her, he told her she was “very tense.” He then reportedly began to rub between her vagina and anus and over her pudendal nerve with his left thumb. The pudendal nerve is the main nerve of the perineum. It carries sensation from the external genitalia and the skin around the anus and perineum. Stunned, the woman froze initially, but due to his continued rubbing and stimulation of her nerve, her body started experiencing involuntary contractions. As she tensed up, he allegedly told her to “breathe through it.”
Lopez Ramirez then told her to turn over on her back. He covered her with the sheet but did not secure it. He massaged her shoulders, arms and upper chest area. When he rotated her arm, the sheet fell exposing her breasts. When he finished the massage, he told her to see him again. She dressed, and went to the waiting room until she was called to be seen by the chiropractor. When the chiropractor saw her, he asked if she was okay and requested she speak with him privately in the back room. She started to cry and the chiropractor asked his wife to speak with her. The woman told her she was inappropriately touched during the massage and Lopez Ramirez was immediately fired. The woman reported the incident to Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
On September 26, 2020, a 66-year old woman booked a one hour deep tissue massage at J. Sterling’s Essential Spa in Winter Park. As she lay face down, Lopez Ramirez failed to secure the sheet covering her. While he massaged her legs, he spread them apart, making her uncomfortable. He then allegedly placed his hand between her legs and touched her vaginal area with his fingers. He asked, “Is this ok?” Shocked and feeling violated she said “no.” She turned over on her back, and he finished the session. When she dressed and left the room he told her she was tense and should continue to get more massages.
The woman went to speak with the receptionist, who was with other clients. When asked if she wanted to leave a tip she said no and would call her from the privacy of her car. Once in her car, she started crying. She told the receptionist that Lopez Ramirez had touched her inappropriately during the massage. The receptionist said she would tell the manager. When the manager confronted Lopez Ramirez, he denied the accusation. He was fired. When the woman got home she told her family and friends what had happened. She then reported the incident to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office.
According to the Department of Health, Lopez Ramirez flagrantly disregarded the laws and regulations governing massage therapists by willfully violating the massage therapist-patient relationship. The Order ensures he can no longer pose an immediate, serious danger to the public’s health, welfare and safety, pending a final hearing by the Department. When clients book a massage, it is to decompress from the stresses of life. They trust that the massage therapists employed at the spa are carefully vetted and safe to engage with the public. It is unacceptable, immoral and unlawful for any employee to touch a client in a sexual manner.
Horowitz Law has filed numerous sexual misconduct claims against massage therapists on behalf of clients who were inappropriately touched at Hand & Stone 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.