Crime

Women say South Beach massage therapist went too far. He’s charged with sexual battery

Elias Ergas
Elias Ergas Miami-Dade Corrections

A Miami Beach therapist who offered a relatively new but increasingly popular treatment that involves massaging the groin area was charged Thursday with sexual battery.

Police said that on at least four separate occasions, Elias Marcelo Ergas, 50, either touched or penetrated the women’s vaginas as they were undergoing lymph node therapy, a massage technique that is supposed to squeeze toxins out of nodes in the groin region.

Ergas was charged with two counts of battery and two counts of sexual battery with no serious injury. He denied the charges, police said. He appeared in bond court Thursday afternoon and his bond has been set at $28,000.

Police said they were concerned there may be other victims.

“There is a strong likelihood other people may have been victimized by this man,” said Miami Beach police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez.

According to police, the women, who haven’t been named, were battered in April and May. All had similar stories: They visited Ergas at his office at 1410 20th St. in Miami Beach for the therapy. And they were all lying on their backs on a table, being massaged, when Ergas’ hands wandered north of their groins.

On Wednesday, a victim came forward and told detectives that Ergas “digitally penetrated” her April 12 when she visited him for massage services, police said.

Two of the women, one on May 9 and another on May 13, said that they got dressed and left after Ergas brushed against the exterior of their vaginas. A third woman told police that as she was lying on her back on May 14, Ergas oiled his hands before touching her exterior, then penetrating her.

The four women were at the the Miami Beach police station Wednesday when Ergas was brought in for questioning and later arrested. State records show Ergas received his massage therapy license in 2016.

Ergas worked from a second-floor office in a building on Sunset Harbour with a Pubbelly Sushi restaurant downstairs. Though there are no signs at his office, police said it was a legitimate place of business.

Miami Herald staff writers David Ovalle and Carli Teproff contributed to this report.

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