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WV Supreme Court affirms masseur’s license suspension

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Photo courtesy of the West Virginia Supreme Court Photo courtesy of the West Virginia Supreme Court
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A former masseur's massage license suspension recently was affirmed by West Virginia Supreme Court justices following allegations of sexual misconduct involving one of his clients.  

The June 10 decision goes back to February 2008 when a client began seeing Dewayne Vass for massage therapy, seeking to relieve pain in her legs, arms and neck.

After her third session, the client called authorities, alleging Vass had sexually assaulted her. The West Virginia Massage Therapy Licensure Board later found Vass made "increasingly direct sexual advances" toward her, the memorandum decision continues.

"The board found that petitioner massaged petitioner's breasts and buttocks in the massage sessions and, on the final session, inserted his fingers into T.G.'s vagina and touched her vaginal area with his mouth," the memorandum decision states.

After hearing testimony from both sides, and determining Vass' witnesses not credible, the board suspended his license to practice massage therapy.

Vass appealed the decision to Kanawha County Circuit Court, which affirmed the board's ruling. He then appealed to the Supreme Court.

In his appeal, Vass took issue with the hearing examiner's findings of fact, the memorandum decision notes.

However, justices said his former client's testimony is "compelling, materially consistent and was supported by the testimony of other clients," and conversely determined Vass' witness testimony had "material inconsistencies that raise questions regarding the truthfulness of the claim."

"We reject petitioner's argument that the case is merely a ‘he said, she said' dispute, pitting petitioner's testimony against T.G.'s, because T.G.'s testimony was supported by the testimony of previous clients and petitioner's witnesses were found not credible, at times contradictory to petitioner's testimony and internally inconsistent."

 

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