On September 9, 2022, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) issued an Emergency Order restricting the massage therapist license of Ismael “Izzy” Garcia after an alleged sexual assault complaint was made by his client. The Order prohibits Garcia’s practice of massage therapy on all female clients in the State of Florida. Garcia has been a licensed massage therapist in Florida since July 2015. The Department of Health is seeking to permanently revoke Ismael Garcia’s massage therapy license according to an Administrative Complaint filed September 22, 2022.
According to the Emergency Order, on June 11, 2022, Ismael Garcia was assigned to perform a 60-massage on a 40-year-old female client at Massage Luxe – Bonita Springs. In preparation for her massage, the client disrobed entirely, laid down on the massage table, and covered herself with the provided drape. Mr. Garcia entered the massage room and proceeded to massage the client. Mr. Garcia reached under the draping and placed his entire palm on one of the client’s bare buttocks, and ran his fingers in the crevice of her buttocks. The victim shifted away from Mr. Garcia in a startled movement. Mr. Garcia quickly removed his hand and resumed the massage. While the victim was face up, Mr. Garcia massaged her upper thigh by moving his hands in stroking motions up toward her pubic area. Mr. Garcia touched the victim’s outer labia in an up-and-down stroking motion. Mr. Garcia touched the victim’s inner labia and clitoris with his ungloved fingers. Mr. Garcia began stroking the client’s inner labia and clitoris in the same motion. After the second stroke, the client’s knee jerked up, and she shouted, “no, no.”
This is not the first therapist at MassageLuXe in Bonita Springs to be reported for sexual assault. A Fort Myers, Florida jury found massage therapist Marc DeTomaso guilty of battery for violating a female customer during a massage in February 2017 at Massage Luxe in Bonita Springs. Prior to working at MassageLuXe, Mr. Garcia was employed at Coast Chiropractic Centers and Well Kneaded Massage Therapy & Skin Care. ·He has also worked as a massage therapist at Halcyon Spa in Fort Myers.
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. 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. 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 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.