New ordinance requires massage therapists get license

By HANNAH JOHNSON – Stillwater Gazette

The Stillwater Police Department is drafting an ordinance that would require massage therapy businesses and therapists have a license.

Police Chief John Gannaway discussed the proposed ordinance with the city council Tuesday night. The measure is in response to a string of recent incidents at the Land of Pharaoh’s Massage located on Greeley Street in Stillwater.

The owner, a certified massage therapist, was recently charged with two counts of gross misdemeanor sexual conduct in Washington County District Court. Since the owner was formerly charged, two other women have come forward alleging unwanted sexual contact during their massage for a total of four victims.

The third and fourth victims’ cases are being forwarded to the Washington County Attorney’s Office for formal charging, said SPD Investigator Chris Crayne.

Gannaway cited an ordinance in Woodbury that requires therapeutic massage businesses and massage therapists become licensed. The Woodbury City Council passed Ordinance 1843 in November after the city had problems with customers receiving sex at some massage therapy businesses.

"Woodbury has a really good ordinance that covers regulations," Gannaway said. "A lot of cities have cracked down on this."

Similar ordinances are also in Oakdale, Cottage Grove, Roseville, Prior Lake, Hopkins and Rochester.

The Stillwater Police Department is working with Woodbury and the League of Minnesota Cities as it develops a city ordinance. The ordinance would require a certain number hours of training and if massage therapists received their training from an accredited institution, Gannaway said.

"We want them to show a certain level of professionalism," Gannaway said.

The police department will notify area spas and massage therapists about the ordinance and gather feedback. Gannaway said he hopes to bring the ordinance before the city council at its April 17 meeting.

"We’ll want to make sure we’re fair to existing (establishments)," Gannaway said. "It’s the ones who come in that we want them to show they’re accredited."