Licensed masseur Juan Pablo Mendiz of Dania Beach, Florida appeared in bond court last Thursday after he was accused of fondling a client during a massage at a Fort Lauderdale branch of Massage Envy.
Mendiz, 32, is being charged with sexual assault. His bond was set at $12,500.
“My client fully cooperated with police and denied committing this abhorrent offense,” said Mendiz’s attorney, Mark Eiglarsh, during bond court last week. “I have entered a not guilty plea on his behalf, demanded trial by jury, and will be zealously defending this case in court.”
The alleged sexual assault took place on March 9 at a Massage Envy on Cordova Road in Fort Lauderdale. The victim, who only had one prior experience with a massage therapist, told investigators that Mendiz’s massage exposed her private parts and made her feel uncomfortable, but she wasn’t sure if that wasn’t standard procedure.
She knew Mendiz crossed the line when he allegedly used a finger to penetrate her. She purportedly grabbed his arm and told him to stop but let him finish the massage out of shock and confusion, the report said.
She reported the incident to Massage Envy staff. A receptionist allegedly took her to a private room and told her to write down her account of what happened. The victim said she was told something would be done and was assured that the corporate office would call her the following day. The Massage Envy staff allegedly told her not to alert the police because they would “handle it internally.”
If the allegations are true, they would be a direct violation of the Massage Envy’s “Commitment to Safety,” a plan the company adopted last year after a news story broke claiming there have been over 180 accusations of sexual assault involving its employees.
The victim called police after leaving the business and investigators met with Massage Envy staff the following day. They provided police with the letter the victim wrote, which corroborated her story to investigators.
Mendiz denied any wrongdoing when he was questioned by authorities, claiming he only touched the victim’s groin region while trying to cover her up with a blanket.
Massage Envy released the following statement to the press following Mendiz’s arrest:
“The reported conduct of the therapist is upsetting and unacceptable. The therapist is no longer employed by the franchisee, and the franchisee will continue to cooperate with law enforcement,” the statement said. “ While we can’t comment on the specifics of any investigation, our policy requires that if a client wants to report an incident, the franchisee must provide the client with law enforcement’s contact information and a private room to make the call.”
Mendiz, who has worked for Massage Envy for a year, reportedly has no prior disciplined cases as a licensed masseur.
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