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Canada

A masturbating client? Part of the business, Canadian policeman advises horrified masseuse

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 May, 2018, 12:12pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 May, 2018, 9:36pm

A Canadian police officer told a massage therapist that harassment at work was just “part of the business” when she tried to report an incident of sexual abuse.

Claudia Cavaliere went to Montreal police after client requested a full-body massage and then proceeded to masturbate in front of her.

Cavaliere, who had recently graduated from a massage therapist programme, quickly left the room and staff asked the man to leave. “I couldn’t speak. I was hyperventilating. I was crying. I was sitting on the floor in the corner of the room, panicking,” Cavaliere told CBC News.

Prepare yourself. I know a friend of mine who owns a massage place and would say it happens all the time
Canadian police officer to masseuse Claudia Cavaliere

But her troubles continued when she attempted to file a police report. Uncomfortable with the process, she recorded a portion of her interview with police on her phone.

The officer on duty made repeated attempts to dissuade her from making a formal statement to police, emphasising the unlikelihood that an investigation would be launched, the lengthy process of legal proceedings and the minor fine the man would receive.

“It’s scary. He could be doing this to so many other women out there,” Cavaliere told the officer.

The officer replied: “If you want to be a massage therapist, prepare yourself. I know a friend of mine who owns a massage place and would say it happens all the time.”

The interview culminated in the officer advising her that such behaviour was to be expected in her line of work. “Prepare yourself. Don’t get emotional with this,” he said.

“It’s not part of the business,” responded Cavaliere.

The incident prompted strong condemnation from Canada’s largest association representing massage therapists.

“Nobody should be subjected to sexual harassment in the least,” said Andrew Lewarne, executive director of Registered Massage Therapist’s Association of Ontario and said massage is therapeutic treatment, “not an open invitation”.

The incident comes at a time when police across the country are under greater scrutiny over how sexual harassment claims are handled.

An investigation by the Globe and Mail has prompted police to re-examine more than 37,000 cases of sexual violence that had been previously dismissed as having no merit.

Montreal police confirmed they are looking into the incident but did not immediately respond to a request for comment.