Grove Spa Ordered To Turn Over Name Of Woman Groped By Masseur
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Taste Of The Town
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Miami judge has ordered a Coconut Grove salon to give prosecutors the name of a woman who claims she was sexually groped by one of their massage therapists.
Last February, therapist Victor Antonio Sanchez, 53, was arrested and charged with sexual battery after a woman claimed she was sexually assaulted during a massage session at the Tiano Salon and Spa at 2840 Oak Avenue in Coconut Grove.
“The victim states that while the defendant was massaging her she felt him performing oral sex on her,” according to court documents.
During questioning, Sanchez reportedly admitted to touching the woman’s genitalia.
The woman sued the spa and in the course of her attorney’s investigation they found that a second woman had complained to the spa that Sanchez had groped her during a session.
In her email to the salon, the woman wrote that contrary to what she told him, Sanchez seemed to concentrate on the areas near her private parts and breasts. At the end of the massage he even kissed her, according to court documents. The woman said when she looked up the masseuse on Yelp, another women had complained about him.
“I am astounded when I read that reviewer had the same experience,” according to the email. “I am sure it happened to me and these women, that it has happened to way more by they are too ashamed or embarrassed to report it.”
The woman went on to say, “I wish this man to be fired because it is the logical and moral thing to do. So, inconclusion, I want a refund and for this man to suffer the consequences (be terminated). I am seriously considering filing a police report if this man is not dealt with properly.”
The salon did not fire Sanchez and had refused to give prosecutors the name of the woman who wrote the email. They claimed the woman had a right to privacy.
“The alleged victim in the email has a privacy interest in not having her name divulged and her identity,” the spa’s attorney, Jeffrey Bell, told CBS4’s Gary Nelson.
Prosecutors countered that, under Florida law, her name would not be made public through the media, and that withholding it from the state essentially amounted to obstruction of a criminal case.
Assistant State Attorney Christine Zahralban argued in court Friday that Tiano was “covering up a sexual battery, and hiding a potential witness.”
“It doesn’t get any clearer than that,” the prosecutor said.
Bell said Sanchez was not let go after Tiano received the email alleging improper touching, because they did not consider the woman’s complaint to be “credible.” The attorney said Sanchez was counseled to be mindful of “where he puts his hands.”
Judge Thomas Rebull said once the salon turns over the woman’s name and an unredacted copy of the email, he will have a retired female judge reach out to her, to see if she objects to being involved in the criminal case against Sanchez. He also entered a one week stay of his order, allowing the spa – and the woman, if she chooses – an opportunity to appeal.
The state believes in addition to these two women there may be at least two other women who were victims after reading reviews in which they said they were touched inappropriately by their massage therapist.
Sanchez, who is an “independent contractor” working at the salon, has pleaded not guilty.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report.