2-plus years after sexual harassment complaint, Great Barrington massage therapist loses license

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GREAT BARRINGTON — A massage therapist's license to practice in Massachusetts has been revoked after a complaint of sexual harassment filed more than two years ago.

The Division of Professional Licensure process took more than nine times the state standard timeline for addressing such serious allegations.

A spokeswoman for the agency said that the department takes all allegations against licensed professionals seriously, but the woman who filed the complaint, personal assistant Veronica Martin, 33, said she is just glad it's over.

"Eight hundred and nineteen days — I filed my complaint Oct. 18, 2016; so long ago Obama was still president," Martin said.

"I've been ready to move past this for a long time," she said. "Throughout the process I had to keep returning to what is the right thing to do, and that's what motivated me to stick with it. Now that it's over, moving forward comes naturally."

Martin filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Board of Registered Massage Therapists against a Great Barrington-based, male massage therapist. She said he exposed her body, told her he was aroused and asked to see her again later, no charge, among other sexual advances.

Because of a lack of a formal criminal complaint, and at Martin's own request, the former therapist is not being identified.

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The board supported Martin's claim and revoked the accused man's license to practice massage therapy in Massachusetts on Jan. 15, according to a letter from the Division of Professional Licensure to Martin. The loss of license also was confirmed in the state's professional license database.

It was a winding road to the license revocation. A hearing with the board for Martin's complaint was postponed four times before being heard in October. The complaint was investigated and Martin, as well as the therapist, were interviewed by the board.

While the state doesn't typically take so long to respond to a complaint, a long wait is not unheard of.

In 2017, the state auditor found that the Division of Professional Licensure routinely neglected to address complaints in a timely and effective manner, allowing potentially unqualified or dangerous people to work when perhaps they should have been reprimanded or lost their licenses. The division oversees professions such as electrician, barber, psychologist, Realtor, social worker, veterinarian and massage therapist.

To correct the Division of Professional Licensure's issue of addressing complaints quickly, the division has developed monthly reports on the status of complaints. A case management team was formed that meets weekly to review the monthly reports and statuses. The division also is reviewing the standards it set for itself to make sure they still are reasonable.

The state auditor's department reviews state agencies every three years, a spokeswoman for the office said, so another review should be out in 2020.

"The division has a thorough and streamlined process in place throughout its various boards and departments to investigate complaints made against its licensees and ensure that complaints are resolved efficiently and effectively," the spokeswoman said. "The Division of Professional Licensure takes all allegations of professional misconduct seriously."

Kristin Palpini can be reached at kpalpini@berkshireeagle.com, @kristinpalpini, 413-629-4621.


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