Accused perv masseur could lose license, but no criminal charges in NJ
A massage therapist who admitted to having sex with one client and who was accused of sexually penetrating another woman could lose his license to practice in New Jersey, state officials said Thursday.
But while the allegations against Steven A. Segovia describe acts of “gross negligence” and “professional misconduct” at Massage Envy parlors in Monmouth County, the professional is not facing criminal sex crime charges.
New Jersey regulations do not permit massage and bodywork therapists to engage in sexual contact regardless of whether it is consensual.
The state Attorney General’s Office filed a complaint last month against Segovia before the Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy.
The complaint says Segovia admitted performing oral sex on a 52-year-old woman client in 2013 at a Massage Envy in Manalapan.
During previous sessions with the woman, the state said he massaged the woman’s buttocks and then inserted a finger into her vagina.
When the woman stopped him, he replied: “I’m sorry, I misread you. I’ll never do it again!”
The woman, however, returned for more sessions — according to the complaint — until the day he performed oral sex on her.
The state complaint also says that he inappropriately touched another 52-year-old woman client at a Massage Envy in Freehold during March 2013.
The state says the woman had eight sessions with Segovia. During the final session, while she was lying on her stomach, he moved her underwear with his finger and penetrated her vagina with his penis, the civil complaint says.
After he was done, he leaned over and whispered: “This will be our little secret, OK?”
The complaint does not describe the sexual acts as being either consensual or an assault. Officials told New Jersey 101.5 that the woman declined to press criminal charges.
The state said Segovia was most recently employed as a physical therapist assistant at Sunnyside Manor in Wall. The senior-living facility said Friday that Segovia was employed through a third-party company and that he was removed from his position at the facility after management learned about the state complaint on Tuesday.
Segovia also could not be reached for comment Thursday and New Jersey 101.5 did not know whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
“Massage therapists cannot, under any circumstances, engage in sexual contact with their clients. It is a clear violation of professional boundaries and an abuse of client trust,” Attorney General Grewal Gurbir said Thursday in a statement. “Massage therapists who breach this fundamental rule, as this one allegedly did, face serious consequences for their actions.”
Last year, a Buzzfeed News report found that more than 180 customers of Massage Envy across the country had accused the company’s employees of sexual assault over the course of 15 years.
"Each of these incidents is heartbreaking for us and for the franchisees that operate Massage Envy locations, and we will never stop looking for ways to help our franchisees provide a safe environment at Massage Envy franchise locations," the company said in a statement.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was updated to clarify Segovia's most recent job status.
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Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.