A South Florida woman says she went for a relaxing massage but wound up being sexually violated. Now, she’s suing, and 7 Investigates’ Karen Hensel has learned, she is not the only one with serious allegations against the same therapist.
This woman says what happened to her inside this Hand & Stone massage in Boca Raton has permanently changed her.
Woman: “It’s caused me to be quite on edge for several months. I’m still dealing with it. It’s not something you forget.”
She did not want her face shown but does want to tell her story.
Woman: “I have a pretty stressful job. It was something that I decided to do for my overall well-being to dedicate to going once a month as something to try and relax. I went to a place that I thought had a good reputation, in a nice area of town.”
She had seen the same massage therapist several times and trusted him until Jan. 12.
Woman: “So it was pretty much towards the end of the massage when I was laying on my back, and it all happened very quickly, within a matter of seconds, I noticed that he started lowering his hands on my chest and then became very aggressive and groping my breast.”
Karen Hensel: “And what did you say at that point?”
Woman: “Immediately sat up and said, ‘stop’ and exited, got dressed, exited and called the police.”
The licensed massage therapist, Donovan Washington II, was arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery. The police report says he “immediately appeared to be nervous … admitted that it was a mistake” and “he understands what occurred is a crime.”
Last month, Washington pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six months probation.
Woman: “Another reason I wanted to make it somewhat public is in the state of Florida, he is charged with a simple assault, just as if he got in a bar fight, and this is, in my mind, a very personal sexual assault.”
Then she learned she is not the first customer to make accusations against him.
Woman: “It’s infuriating.”
Her lawsuit claims a second woman was assaulted — a few years earlier, and that Washington acted “inappropriately” by touching her “inner thighs and vagina during the massage.”
The woman did not call police — but says she did tell management and the corporate office “promised … to address” it.
Washington was not fired at the time.
Joseph Discepola, attorney: “It wasn’t just a matter of this happened, but I found out in that moment that there was a history of the same exact massage therapist doing this to someone else.”
Attorney Joseph Discepola is suing on behalf of the woman who spoke with us.
Woman: “It’s infuriating that the owner would allow this person to stay an employee, and this was a difference of several years ago.”
In March, the owner of several Hand & Stone franchises in South Florida — including this one on North Federal Highway in Boca Raton — sold them, so the location now has a new owner and new management.
The new owner emailed us saying, “these allegations are deeply concerning” but “cannot comment on the previous owner” because of the lawsuit. Adding: “… we take all steps possible to ensure situations like this never occur in our spas.”
He also sent us this picture of an attention button he says is placed under each massage table. If a client is uncomfortable, one push alerts the front desk.
As for this victim…
Woman: “That is the reason that I wanted to meet with you. If there’s any other women or men, anybody that this has happened to, to feel like it’s OK to come forward.”
And by coming forward, she is now hoping to empower others.
Karen Hensel, 7News.
To check a massage therapist’s license and if there is any disciplinary history:
To file a complaint:
Florida Board of Massage Therapy:
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