JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After a former massage parlor employee was arrested on two more attempted sexual assault charges, News4Jax has learned that Body and Sole Massage in the Avenues Mall is being sued.
According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, an investigation began in February after three people came forward to report a sexual battery or attempted sexual battery at an Avenues Mall business.
Police said the investigation led to the arrest of 32-year-old Qiting Duan, an employee at Body and Sole Massage on Southside Boulevard, on one count of sexual assault and two counts of attempted sexual assault.
At the time, police said they were concerned there could be more victims.
Since his March arrest, four new charges have been filed against Duan. He now faces seven counts in all -- three counts of sexual assault and four counts of attempted sexual assault.
A nine-page lawsuit filed against Body and Sole Massage outlines what happened to one of the victims.
According to the Sheriff's Office incident report, a victim told police that Duan touched her inappropriately in her vagina area during a massage. She said she had been at the parlor for a couples massage with her fiance and that Duan had massaged her buttocks while she was lying face down. Then, after having her flip onto her back, he covered her eyes with a paper towel, massaged her inner thighs and touched her vagina beneath her underwear, the report said.
The lawsuit alleges that the woman faced bodily injury, great physical pain and suffering and the inability to lead and enjoy a normal life. The civil lawsuit says the damages to the woman exceed $15,000.
"How and why was one individual able to sexually batter numerous women over a period of time?" Doug Clifton of Willis Lucas Law Group asked. "Someone failed their duty to regulate, to supervise and to keep these women safe."
Gabriela Fernandez, a massage therapy instructor at Parisian Spa Institute in Riverside, agreed with Clifton. She said massage therapy spas in Florida are heavily regulated to prevent situations like this.
"For clients and inspectors that come in, the license has to have a photo attached to it, and there's a license number on it as well," Fernandez said. "Those numbers can be looked up on the state website."
Fernandez said that Florida massage therapy licenses have to be renewed every two years and therapists have to go through continuing education.
"I tell my students to keep an eye on the news and to always be aware of these things happening in our community because, as professionals, it's our job to safeguard the integrity of our industry," Fernandez said.