GARDINER, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — The Maine Department of Professional & Finance Regulation has suspended the license of a massage therapist practicing in Bath after its commissioner concluded the man had violated state rules by inappropriately touching a female client.
According to state documents, the commissioner and department concluded on July 12 that Joseph Carmichael engaged in lewd, indecent, or obscene behavior while acting as a massage therapist or message practitioner on Sept. 23, 2016, when he "touched the breasts of his massage therapy client" and "pressed his erection against her arms."
Carmichael's license to practice massage therapy in the state has been suspended for six months, or until Jan. 12, 2018.
NEWS CENTER reached out to Carmichael by phone, who said he is "a proud male massage therapist" and that he "did not get sexually aroused while massaging the opposite sex." He also said he loves his career and plans to appeal the allegations.
Carmichael was first licensed as a massage therapist in Maine in 2011. He has worked at Massage Envy in Portland, Bath Hair, inc., in Bath and seasonally at Sebasco Harbor Resorts.
State documents outlined both the licensee's and complainant's recollections:
Carmichael testified before the commissioner stating the client was a first-time Groupon customer and his last appointment that day at Bath Hair, inc., in Bath. He told the commissioner that before the massage he and the client went over which areas of her body she wanted massaged. Among other areas, he asked to include the pectoral muscles and she agreed.
The client's recollection states Carmichael began to stumble over his words during the conversation about her pectoral muscles, and that surprised her. After he asked a second time, she had to reassure him she was in agreement with including the area of body in the massage.
After an hour-long massage, the client requested Carmichael continue for an additional half hour. The client then told Carmichael, according to his testimony, that he seemed uncomfortable or nervous when asking her permission to massage the pectoral muscles. Being a massage therapist herself, she suggested to him the question could have been better addressed by obtaining written permission on a health history form that a client could compete prior to beginning the massage.
The client testified that while Carmichael massaged her pectoral muscles he moved his whole hand under the drape and over her entire left breast. She told the commissioner she felt shocked, had never felt anything like it during a massage and recalled it seemed surreal. She said Carmichael did the same movement with his hand over her right breast as well, and that he was shaking and breathing, but did not say anything.
While laying down in a prone position, the client told the commissioner Carmichael worked her back for a short period of time then experienced an erection that he pushed against her arms. She said he then told her he wanted to work on her pectoral muscles again and reached under her and simultaneously moved his hands over both of her breasts.
Following a demonstration to the department, Carmichael said the client did not complain about the massage either to him or to the receptionist, and was adamant he did not touch the client's breasts and did not experience an erection at any time during her massage.
The client confirmed in her testimony she did not say or do anything in response to Carmichael's actions, but did say she felt as if she was frozen, or was disassociated or disconnected from the situation.
Carmichael admitted to the commissioner that it's sometimes difficult to determine where breast tissue begins, and that he normally explains this to clients in advance, asks them to speak up when or if they are uncomfortable and checks with them during the massage to determine comfort level. Carmichael explained to the commissioner he sometimes gets "into the zone" when doing a massage and closes his eyes to aid concentration.
The client told the commissioner her breasts were sore "for days after" the reported incident.
Read the full Maine Department of Professional & Finance Regulation document: