Four massage therapists charged with sexual assault manage to keep their licenses in Md.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (ABC7) — Criminal charging documents state four massage therapists violently assaulted female clients within private treatment rooms, but 7 On Your Side has learned all four men are still licensed to provide massages within the state of Maryland.
Between December 2016 and December 2017, Montgomery County Police charged Habibollah Jadidi, 64, Dewayne Hall, 38, Victor Mendoza-Gonzalez, 39, and Anton Zaitsev, 29, with a variety of sexual offenses. Although the four cases are not connected, the allegations have many striking similarities.
• In June 2016, Habibollah Jadidi allegedly digitally penetrated a female client and grabbed one of her breasts at the Massage Heights in Rockville. The victim later told police, "I felt like I was at the gynecologist." Once the massage concluded, the woman said Jadidi slid his business card into her purse, explaining that he made “home visits.”
• In February 2017, Dewayne Hall spread a female client's legs apart and massaged her groin at the Massage Heights in Rockville. The woman said Hall was breathing heavily and making moaning noises during the unwanted touching. The woman demanded the massage was over, quickly got dressed, ran to her car and called police.
• In March 2017, Victor Mendoza-Gonzalez allegedly massaged a female client's upper-inner thighs and groin, plus forced oral sex upon the woman at VMG Massage Therapy in Bethesda, which he owns and operates. The victim later told investigators that she "was frozen with shock" on the massage table. The woman also recalled Mendoza-Gonzalez comment about "how close he was to her private area." Mendoza-Gonzalez
• In August 2017, Anton Zaitsev allegedly caressed the most intimate parts of a female client's body at the Massage Envy in Olney. He also reportedly forced the woman to perform oral sex on him – at one point asking, "Is this what you want?" When the woman resisted, Zaitsev declared the massage was over and stormed out of the treatment room.
Despite the serious allegations spelled out in each public charging document, the Maryland Board of Massage Therapy Examiners has not suspended or revoked Jadidi, Hall, Mendoza-Gonzalez or Zaitsev's licenses. Instead, a state database continued to list their respective certification statuses as "active" at publication time.
The Maryland Board of Massage Therapy Examiners falls under the purview of the Maryland Department of Health. It has a staff of eight full-time employees, one part-time employee and a seven-member volunteer board. The governor appoints board members. Five are licensed massage therapists and two are public members. The agency is entrusted with overseeing nearly 4,000 licensed massage therapists and practitioners statewide.
According to board chairman David Cox, the agency has only one investigator on staff equipped to handle sexual abuse cases. On average, it receives around 25 to 50 such grievances each year, ranging from mild to major. However, that same investigator is also required to process billing complaints, massage injuries, refusal of service due to a client's race, sex or an infectious disease, plus attend raids at spas that are engaging in unsavory behavior. Simply put, the 23-county workload is taxing for one person, and consequently, mistakes do happen.
The board has previously requested a second investigator, plus a legal aid be hired to help chip away at the case backlog. It has yet to happen. State funding, after all, is chronically finite.
Cox told ABC7 News that department policy prevents him from speaking about individual cases. However, he made clear that the board does have authority to suspend and/or revoke licenses should a therapist commit a transgression, such as failure to pay child support, failure to pay taxes or engaging in criminal conduct. The board can also issue terms, to include, substance abuse counseling, drug testing and anger management courses.
“The current legal status of any individual licensee will be brought to the board’s attention and will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. The board will, as always, fulfill its mission to protect the public," Cox stated by telephone.
Jadidi failed to appear at numerous court dates and currently has a warrant out for his arrest. Sources say he may have fled to his native Iran.
Hall was found guilty of fourth-degree sex assault in June 2017. A judge granted him probation.
Mendoza-Gonzalez and Zaitsev’s cases continue to trickle through the Montgomery County court system. Both masseurs face decades in prison.
7 On Your Side will continue to monitor Jadidi, Hall, Mendoza-Gonzalez and Zaitsev’s Maryland massage practitioner licenses with updates to come.