Background Screening for Massage Therapists
According to KSHB 41 in Kansas City, Missouri, a Northland massage therapist was recently accused of inappropriately touching a client. Clay County, Missouri prosecutors have charged Richard Wall with second degree sodomy. The victim told police that the assault happened on October 1, 2015. Wall’s bail is set at $25,000, and if convicted, he could spend up to seven years in prison.
Massage Heights, where the alleged event occurred, issued a statement saying:
“We were appalled to hear of the allegations of sexual misconduct of one of our massage therapists. Massage Heights Franchising has a zero tolerance policy against inappropriate behavior, including sexual misconduct, and upon learning of the allegations the local franchisee immediately terminated the massage therapist’s employment. Franchisees are encouraged to conduct background and reference checks prior to hiring all licensed massage therapists. This employee was licensed by the state of Missouri, which requires thorough criminal background checks of all massage therapists before issuing and renewing licenses. The local franchisee is fully cooperating with authorities in the investigation. Massage Heights Franchising is dedicated to the well-being of the thousands of members and guests our franchisees serve, and these policies are designed to create a safe and secure environment in each and every retreat.”
In most states, strict policies are already in place. Other states continue to tighten up their laws.
In Minnesota, the state is attempting to establish a statewide registry that would call for voluntary registration from massage therapists. According to KARE NBC in Minnesota, “In order to register massage therapists must pass a criminal background check, have a high school diploma, and complete at least 500 hours of education in massage and body work. Those convicted of certain crimes like prostitution and human trafficking would not be allowed to register.” Many massage therapists in the Gopher State feel that current requirements are sufficient.
In Boise, Idaho, legislation has been introduced in the current legislative session that would require message therapists in the state of Idaho to undergo criminal background checks. According to Mitch Toryanski who is with the Idaho Bureau of Occupational Licenses, “Idaho law does not require a fingerprint-based background check to receive a massage therapist license. The background check requirement will cost applicants an additional $37 on top of other licensure fees.” Idaho currently has more than 2,100 licensed massage therapists.