Massage therapist association calls for legislation in light of Donlevy sex assaults

Click to play video 'Massage Therapist Association of Saskatchewan calls for regulation changes' Massage Therapist Association of Saskatchewan calls for regulation changes
WATCH ABOVE: The Massage Therapist Association of Saskatchewan is calling on the province to make changes to protect the public after 13 woman came forward accusing a former therapist of sexual assault. – Nov 7, 2018

Another woman has come forward to Saskatoon police, bringing the total to 13 who say they were sexually assaulted by the same man. In the majority of cases, the incidents were alleged to have occurred when they went to Mark Donlevy for a massage.

In September, the 50-year-old was convicted of a sexual assault stemming back to a date with a woman in 2004. He will learn his fate on Nov. 15 when he is sentenced  for the crime.

READ MORE: Mark Donlevy guilty of sexual assault

The other 12 charges tie back to his home-based massage business, MD Muscle Therapy, and are alleged to have taken place between 2003 and 2016 involving female patients.

The women, ranging in age from their early 20’s to 40’s, said they went for a treatment and were sexually assaulted during the session.

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Donlevy was arrested on Nov. 5, 2018 on the latest charge and has been released on conditions.

“It’s really caused fear, fear about why didn’t the industry and the profession – why didn’t we prevent this from happening,” said Lori Green, the executive director of the  Massage Therapist Association of Saskatchewan (MTAS).

“It was a criminal offence, we had no idea.”

READ MORE: Massage therapist Mark Donlevy facing seven sexual assault charges

The association represents 873 members in the province, highly trained individuals who take two years of school and have 2,200 hours of clinical experience.

Students must provide a criminal record check and sign an affidavit each year saying nothing has changed in terms of their criminal status and they aren’t suspected of a criminal act.

Green said the Donlevy case has had a ripple affect on the industry. Clients are leery about being treated at a home especially if the therapist is a man.

“This is something that people should not be particularly worried about but it does bring to the forefront the need to protect the public,” Green added.

“Legislation will go a long way to help that.”

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MTAS would like to see a governing body victims can approach with compliant, and if a therapist is being investigated or had an infraction filed against them, their name would published on a public registrar.

“If somebody decides to engage in criminal activity whether it’s a regulated profession or not, that doesn’t preclude if someone has chosen to break the law.” said Jim Reiter, Saskatchewan’s Health Minister.

Draft legislation was done in 2015, but MTAS says the provincial government has had no input or desire with the associations.

The health minster said there have been a few sticking points among the two main associations that they need to agree on and haven’t been able to yet.

Without any legislation, anyone can call themselves a massage therapist in the province – even if they haven’t taken any training, exams or provided a criminal record check.

Additionally, without regulations when it comes to registered massage therapists – even if their license is revoked, they could still perform treatments unless the courts say otherwise.