Miami-Dade County

Massage therapist accused of sexual battery on a female client

The Florida Department of Health disciplined four South Florida licensed professionals — a licensed practical nurse, an advanced registered nurse practitioner and two massage therapists, one of whom the department accused of raping his client — according to emergency orders the agency announced on Monday.

The disciplinary actions — Emergency Suspension Orders and Emergency Restriction Orders — were issued during the month of March.

In alphabetical order, here are the people who were disciplined:

▪ Kendall Licensed Practical Nurse Pete Jeremy Barber voluntarily agreed to withdraw from practice as of March 31. Barber had no discipline cases or public complaints against him.

▪ Miami massage therapist Edgar Fajardo, licensed since May 2, 2005, was issued an Emergency Suspension Order on March 28. Fajardo’s had some legal troubles. Misdemeanor battery? No problem. Misdemanor marijuana possession? No problem. Misdemeanor petit theft & larceny? No problem.

But when he pleaded guilty to to felony false imprisonment in 2009, he violated a state statute, requiring the emergency order suspending his license.

▪ Fort Lauderdale Advanced Registered Nurse Practioner Kimberly Ann Davis Palazzolo, licensed since 1981, pleaded guilty in November 2015 to making false statements relating to health care matters. She served four months in federal prison for her part in psychiatric hospital Hollywood Pavilion’s Medicare fraud scheme and received an emergency suspension order on March 28.

The scheme netted the hospital $59,562, chump change not just by South Florida Medicare fraud standards but by the average Fort Lauderdale registered nurse practitioner salary ($98,490), according to salary.com.

Mr. Rodriguez placed his hands between Patient R.A's buttocks multiple times, touching her anus...During the massage, Mr. Rodriguez pressed his clothed penis against Patient R.A.'s arm.”

Department of Health Order of Emergency Restriction of License of Massage Therapist Ernesto L. Rodriguez

▪ Hallandale massage therapist Ernesto L. Rodriguez worked at Om’echaye Wellness & Fitness Center, 1100 E. Hallandale Beach Blvd. Om’echaye founder Beatriz Wilensky said Rodriguez has since been dismissed. Since March 20, his license has been restricted to male clients while the department goes through the process of full suspension of his license.

According to the Department of Health Findings of Fact in the Order of Emergency Restriction of License, on Jan. 9, 2017, Rodriguez performed a body scrub of “Patient R.A.” while she was nude without draping. He then proceeded with a massage while she was still nude without draping. He did the latter without receiving her consent.

Then, while Patient R.A. was on her stomach, as he spread hot oil on her back, the report says, “Mr. Rodriguez placed his hands between Patient R.A's buttocks multiple times, touching her anus...During the massage, Mr. Rodriguez pressed his clothed penis against Patient R.A.'s arm.”

The report continues: “While Patient R.A. was lying on her back, Mr. Rodriguez touched Patient R.A.'s breasts and vagina. Mr. Rodriguez then touched Patient R.A.'s clitoris, and Patient R.A. asked Mr. Rodriguez not to touch her there. Mr. Rodriguez then touched Patient R.A.'s nipples between his fingers.”

The report says Rodriguez told the woman the massage was “something special for your birthday" that he "didn't do it for everyone." When the woman protested that Rodriguez’s gift wasn’t the deep tissue massage she wanted, Rodriguez told her she had to come to his home for that. He handed her his personal business card.

“Mr. Rodriguez willfully abused his position as a massage therapist to sexually violate a woman who trusted him to act professionally and within the boundaries of generally accepted massage therapy and treatment,” the report concludes. “Mr. Rodriguez's violation of the massage therapist-patient relationship indicates that Mr. Rodriguez lacks the good moral character and judgment necessary to practice massage therapy.

“Mr. Rodriguez's lack of good judgment and moral character and his disregard for the laws and regulations governing massage therapists in this state represent a significant likelihood that Mr. Rodriguez will cause harm to female clients in the future. This probability constitutes an immediate, serious danger to the health, safety, or welfare of the citizens of the State of Florida. Nothing short of the immediate restriction of Mr. Rodriguez's license to practice as a massage therapist in the State of Florida will protect the public from the dangers created by Mr. Rodriguez's continued practice of massage therapy on female clients.”

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal

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