A West Palm Beach massage therapist was acquitted of sexually molesting an off-duty Palm Beach sheriff’s office employee and corrections officer. The deputy had gone to the massage parlor, Massage Envy, in Royal Palm Beach. The jury deliberated for four hours eventually clearing 43-year-old Juan Parra of attempted sexual battery. Had he been convicted, he could have faced a 15-year prison sentence and found his name in the sex offender’s registry.
Parra, who was born in Venezuela, will face another charge of sexual battery from a different woman. He is also being detained by immigration officials.
The sheriff’s deputy claimed that Parra touched her genitals, buttocks, and breasts during the massage. Parra testified that he was “100% sure” he never touched any bathing suit areas. The deputy did not report the issue until the next day, saying that she was shocked and embarrassed by the entire thing.
During the trial, another woman testified that Parra had molested her and the defense attorney for Parra claimed that the whole thing was a money grab. He told reporters that the prosecution was hoping to line up lawsuits against Massage Envy which has locations all over the U.S. However, just because Parra wasn’t convicted of attempted sexual battery doesn’t mean that those lawsuits can’t be filed or won. Indeed, an attorney for the complainant has openly stated that he intends to file a lawsuit against Massage Envy over the interaction.
Lawsuits Against Massage Envy
Buzzfeed reported that the massage parlor chain has been hit with 180 lawsuits all alleging sexual impropriety. In response, Massage Envy issued a statement saying that they’ve upgraded their security practices and now issue background checks on their masseuses.
If Parra is acquitted during a second trial, which appears likely, he will not face deportation for the crimes.
Attempted Sexual Battery
Interestingly, the prosecution chose not to charge Parra with actual sexual battery. While some readers might find this bizarre, under Florida statutes, sexual battery is defined by unwanted penetration of a bodily orifice. Since Parra never technically penetrated the woman, he was charged only with attempted sexual battery. To prove attempted sexual battery, the prosecutor trying the case must show that all of these elements are true beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant took some step to commit sexual battery against a complainant; and
- The defendant would have committed sexual battery but something prevented him from carrying out the crime.
Attempted sexual battery in the State of Florida is similar to attempted rape in other states. Since the prosecution failed to prove what the defendant’s intent was, the defendant will walk free.
However, Massage Envy may still be on the hook for the civil suits that they now face.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you’ve been charged with a serious crime in the Palm Beach area, the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at The Skier Law Firm, P.A. can help defend you from the charges. Talk to us today for more information.