State-licensed massage therapist could face additional sex charg - WFLA News Channel 8

State-licensed massage therapist could face additional sex charges

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Ronald Bruinius. Pinellas Counry Jail booking photo Ronald Bruinius. Pinellas Counry Jail booking photo
CLEARWATER, FL (WFLA) -

Licensed massage therapist Ronald Bruinius is already facing two charges of sexual battery for assaulting female clients on the job and may have even more to worry about before he faces trial in Pinellas County.

On Monday morning, Bruinius' defense attorney Nina Hayden told a judge at the Pinellas Justice Center that she knows Bruinius is under active investigation for additional criminal offenses related to his work as a massage therapist.

"There are more potential cases coming down the pike," Hayden said.

Hayden waived Bruinius' right to speedy trial and asked the judge to delay his next pretrial hearing for six weeks in order to determine if law enforcement investigators and prosecutors planned to file more criminal charges.

Pinellas County Sheriff's detectives arrested Bruinius in December after a woman complained that he assaulted her during a massage therapy session in Seminole. In January, they added another charge based on a different female client's complaint of a sexual assault during a massage.

Clearwater Police also investigated Bruinius for assaulting an elderly disabled man he was caring for in his other licensed profession as a certified nursing assistant, but that male victim declined to pursue charges and police dropped the case.

A month before Bruinius' arrest, an 8 On Your Side investigation uncovered eight licensed massage therapists in Florida who were also registered sex offenders. One of them went back to work as a massage therapist after starting ten-years probation as a registered sex offender for assaulting a client.

The Department of Health (DOH) administrators would not comment on any of those cases, but said the agency is not authorized to perform background checks for massage therapy license applicants and the agency's rules do not automatically preclude sex offenders from holding massage licenses.

Following that 8 On Your Side investigation, two state lawmakers said they would propose legislation to tighten DOH regulation of massage licenses to keep sex offenders from legally practicing in the massage profession.

State records indicate the DOH issued an emergency suspension of Bruinius' Massage and nursing licenses on January 14, a month after his initial arrest for sexual assault.

There is no indication of discipline on Bruinius' state licensing records as that DOH investigation continues.

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