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Kentucky Massage Therapy Bill addresses loopholes to prevent sex trafficking, assault

A Kentucky House Bill that looks to tighten restrictions on massage therapy is going to be up for a vote in the Senate next week.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — House Bill 79 addresses many different aspects of massage therapy, with the end goal to stop sex trafficking as well as close loopholes within Kentucky's Massage Board. 

"You know the bad actors have been able to jump from job to job as they get fired from one, there's really no way to trigger that," State Representative Matthew Koch (D-77) said. "So you know, working with the FBI, the police, the Attorney General to put some language in there to close that gap."

Koch is a primary sponsor on the bill. Part of the wording addresses a loophole that WHAS11 exposed in a 2019 investigation. 

That's when seven women came forward in a lawsuit claiming that a massage therapist had sexually assaulted them. That massage therapist worked at the Omni Hotel during six of these allegations and had moved to A Therapeutic Touch Massge, where another woman says she was also sexually assaulted.

RELATED: Massage therapist accused of sexual assault faced similar allegations at previous job, attorney says

"You exposed in great deal in your stories a couple years ago about your problems with the board and the problems with regulations, the board is kind of hamstrung with what they can do," Attorney Casey Krill said to WHAS11's Kristin Goodwillie. 

When WHAS11 asked the board in 2019 why that massage therapist was still licensed, here's what the board's attorney, Chris Hunt had to say, "If disciplinary action was taken, that would show up."

That is one of the loopholes this bill aims to address. As of now, these spas don't need to report someone if they're fired for sex trafficking or sex abuse. 

 "And that's part of what we're going with here with the colored photos and the fingerprinting and that way it's easier to identify them," Koch said.

Attorney Casey Krill says if this bill were in place when these alleged assaults happened, the OMNI would have a responsibility to report the massage therapist to the board, who could then take action. 

"Which would have stopped who knows how many people from being assaulted," Krill said.

This Bill passed the house and this week passed the senate committee. Representative Koch expects a Senate vote next week. 

    

Contact reporter Kristin Goodwillie at KGoodwillie@whas11.com and follow her on Twitter and Facebook 

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