On November 7, 2022, Horowitz Law filed a lawsuit in Lee County Circuit Court against the Bonita Springs franchise of Massage Luxe after massage therapist Ismael “Izzy” Garcia allegedly assaulted a female client. The Massage Luxe franchise is located at 3300 Bonita Beach Road, Suite #129, Bonita Springs, FL 34134. Attorney Adam Horowitz remarked, “The public would be shocked if they knew how many incidents of sexual misconduct occur in the massage setting. Each month in Florida we are seeing multiple massage therapists lose their massage license or get arrested for sex crimes. It turns out that the massage many people seek for relaxation is in fact a dangerous activity.”
Allegations in the Complaint
According to law enforcement records, on June 11, 2022, Ismael “Izzy” Garcia was assigned to perform a 60-massage on a 40-year-old female client at Massage Luxe. 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 allegedly reached under the draping, placed his entire palm on one of the client’s bare buttocks, and ran his fingers in the crevice of her buttocks. The alleged victim shifted away from Mr. Garcia in a startled movement. Mr. Garcia quickly removed his hand and resumed the massage. While the alleged victim was face up, Mr. Garcia massaged her upper thigh by moving his hands in stroking motions up toward her pubic area. According to law enforcement records, Mr. Garcia touched the victim’s outer labia in an up-and-down stroking motion. Mr. Garcia allegedly touched the victim’s inner labia and clitoris with his ungloved fingers. Mr. Garcia reportedly 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.”
According to the lawsuit, Ismael Garcia was aided in accomplishing the sexual assault upon Plaintiff by the existence of his agency or employment relationship with MASSAGE LUXE. Specifically, Mr. Garcia is alleged to have used the authority delegated to him by MASSAGE LUXE to initiate sexual contact with Plaintiff while she was undressed and laying in prone, vulnerable position in a dark room seeking relaxation. She was in this vulnerable position with Mr. Garcia precisely because of Mr. Garcia’s agency relationship with MASSAGE LUXE. The lawsuit states that under the doctrine of respondeat superior, MASSAGE LUXE is responsible for the reckless and intentional actions of its servant, committed in the actual or apparent scope of his duties.
Garcia’s License Was Restricted, and Now DOH Seeks to Revoke
Ismael Garcia was arrested on the same sexual battery charge that is the subject of the lawsuit. The arrest comes two months after the Florida Department of Health (DOH) took emergency action on his massage therapy license. On September 9, 2022, the 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 on September 22, 2022.
All massage therapists in Florida are licensed by the Florida Department of Health. If your massage therapist makes any sexual contact with you, it is a violation of professional ethics and may be a crime and actionable in a civil lawsuit. In addition to reporting misconduct to law enforcement, if this incident occurs in Florida, you can also lodge a complaint with the Department of Health at this website: https://www.flhealthcomplaint.gov
If you have been a victim of sexual assault during a massage at any Massage Luxe location, or if you know someone who has, please contact our law firm at (954) 641-2100 or send an email to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at [email protected].