On June 28, 2002, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) issued an Emergency Order of the license of massage therapist, Ernesto Piloto Garcia, prohibiting his practice of massage therapy on female clients in the State of Florida. The Emergency Order was entered in response to a sexual misconduct complaint by a female client that allegedly occurred during a massage he performed while working at a Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa location in Naples, FL. Piloto Garcia has been a licensed massage therapist in Florida since February 2022.
According to the Emergency Order, on April 3, 2022, Ernesto Piloto Garcia was assigned to perform a 60-minute massage on an 18-year-old female high school student at a Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa location in Naples. During the massage, Piloto Garcia lowered the draping uncovering the client’s buttocks and thong underwear. Mr. Pilato Garcia massaged the teen’s upper thigh and reached over to touch her vagina. The client immediately pushed herself up, flipped over into a sitting position and Piloto Garcia then covered the client’s mouth and used his right hand to force her legs to wrap around his waist while continuing to touch the lips of her vagina. Her thong underwear exposed her vagina which Piloto Garcia was still touching. Piloto Garcia then attempted to kiss the teenager multiple times and the client repeatedly attempted to push Mr. Pilato Garcia off of her.
He finally left the room to allow the client to get dressed. Piloto Garcia returned to the room and would not let the client leave the massage room until the set time for the massage expired. Garcia stated that he did not want people (staff) to know the massage ended early. Pilato Garcia stated, ” if I (Mr. Pilato Garcia) keep my mouth shut, and you (the client) leave your mouth shut, then this shouldn’t be a problem at all.” The client was in shock at what just transpired. The 18-year-old felt violated, scared, and unsafe. She then reported the incident to law enforcement.
When clients schedule 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. Clients of massage therapists are placed in isolated, vulnerable settings where they can be subject to abuse by their massage therapists.
Due to the potential for abuse that is inherent under those circumstances, massage therapists must possess good judgment and good moral character in order to safely practice massage therapy. Mr. Ernesto Piloto Garcia willfully abused his position as a massage therapist to sexually violate a woman who trusted him to act professionally and within the boundaries of generally accepted massage therapy and treatment. Piloto Garcia’s violation of the massage therapist-patient relationship indicates that he lacks the good moral character and judgment necessary to safely practice massage therapy.
Horowitz Law has filed numerous sexual assault lawsuits against massage therapists on behalf of clients who were inappropriately touched at Hand and Stone and various massage salons and spas. 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 for massage clients at [email protected] for a free consultation.