Illinois’s House of Representatives has received two bills addressing problems with issuing massage therapy licenses.
Some people have expressed apprehension about how complaints against massage therapists are handled, among other concerns. The issues first came to light when a woman filed a lawsuit against a massage therapist. In this suit, the defendant pled guilty to attempting sexual abuse and having a felony conviction on his record. It also became apparent that he had a felony history before committing the assault. Despite this knowledge, the company still hired him as a massage therapist.
According to the woman, she went for a massage at a massage business established by a national massage company. The massage therapist then assaulted her during the experience, stopping only when told. She left immediately after, processed what happened with her husband and a sexual assault counselor, and reported the crime five days later.
As a result, the massage therapist received charges for several felonies. He pled guilty to criminal sexual abuse over two years later. In this plea, the courts required him to register as a sex offender and prohibited him from continuing work as a massage therapist. Eventually, it revoked his license, though this action took several months.
Individuals interested in becoming massage therapists cannot get a license with specific convictions on their records. These include prostitution, sexual misconduct, rape, or any offense that requires them to register as sex offenders. However, many serious crimes do not automatically preclude an individual from acquiring a massage license. Examples include arson, theft, first-degree murder, aggravated battery, stalking, kidnapping, aggravated vehicular hijacking, and assault. Another problem that came to light is the inadequate communication between state agencies and the agency that maintains massage therapist licenses.
Becoming aware of these problems is how Illinois lawmakers have reached this point: Introducing two bills that would further regulate the massage industry. One of the bills, HB3584, would require the state’s licensing office to have all records of felony convictions. It would also ensure that crime victims know their rights to file. Finally, it encourages the victims to file any issues with a licensed individual.
Lawmakers also introduced HB3583. This bill requires state-licensed massage therapists to undergo the same checks and reviews as other healthcare workers. As such, it should help ensure the safety of individuals obtaining a massage from licensed professionals. All these problems have highlighted and emphasized the importance of running background checks on applicants, especially in industries with vulnerable clients.
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