By Deana Medina
Two witnesses familiar with massage therapist Jeremy Tali Davis through his workplaces gave their testimony to the court.
“RC,” the previous owner of the now-closed Massage Heights in Davis where the alleged incident involving Davis took place, testified to the court, providing details of how the business and its management dealt with the allegation.
Deputy Public Defender Joseph Gocke, representing Davis, questioned RC in regard to his ownership duties. RC operated Massage Heights from 2013 to 2016, which promptly closed following the incident.
According to RC, the method of hiring a new massage therapist is the same for both men and women, requiring verification of three to five references.
“The information we received was that he was hirable, past employers would love to have him back,” said RC of Davis’ hiring process.
A hired massage therapist would then receive feedback through customer surveys obtained through follow ups with clients.
In regard to Davis’ feedback from his clients, male and female, RC said “[he was] always booked and re-booked, which meant he was meeting and exceeding their expectations.” Along with never receiving any complaints, RC decided to retain Davis as an employee, and placed him on probation due to his good reputation after the complaint. The complaint to Massage Heights was via a phone call from a client’s mother, who accused Davis of inappropriately touching her daughter during a massage. Police eventually arrested Davis two months later.
Deputy DA Matt De Moura cross-examined the witness, asking what exactly leads to a massage therapist on probation, to which RC explained only high level issues would result in probation, such as sexual misconduct, and if a second complaint arises, termination of the employee is the next step.
RC explained he was contacted by the client’s mother, prompting him to speak with Davis to fully understand what happened during the session. Davis denied everything, but RC nevertheless put him on probation due to there being a complaint.
If a sticky situation arises, perhaps with inappropriate behavior from the client, RC described how the massage therapist has the power to end the session at any time and can even terminate a client’s membership if necessary. No record of a complaint from Davis about the client was filed according to RC, as it would have been placed in her membership profile in the computer system.
In a redirect, Mr. Gocke confirmed there is not usually a manager in the room with the massage therapist during the sessions, leaving them to use their own discretion in tough predicaments with clients.
The defense and prosecution then rested, excusing RC at that time. However, later on in the trial, RC re-entered the courtroom due to the defense having more questions.
Mr. Gocke confirmed that RC did in fact review the client’s member profile from the computer system, showing a printed copy.
RC said to his knowledge the session between the client and Davis did not end early and no complaint was brought forth to management once it ended.
“I do recall when I had a conversation with the retreat director [manager] there were no complaints [about Davis and the client.]”
When the client’s mother called, a refund was issued, but Mr. Gocke brought up how the client left behind a tip, which RC said he believed had happened as well.
The prosecution countered quickly, asking RC if it is true that clients can choose to leave a tip prior to the massage. RC confirmed the statement, saying he did not know whether the tip left by the client was left before or after the massage.
“LR” was the next witness who testified, a massage therapist of 20 years and former coworker of Davis’ from 2010 to 2013 in Novato, California.
The two often saw the same clients, and LR told Mr. Gocke she had gotten numerous massages from Davis: “More than I can count, probably at least once a month during the three years we worked together.”
LR’s job position as lead therapist required her to check in with the other therapists, specifically on their technique and their ability to be responsive to clients’ needs, hence having massages from Davis herself.
“Part of our job is to make our clients feel comfortable and find out what the client needs…establishing trust, creating boundaries,” said LR.
According to LR, Davis managed to accomplish his duties well during their time together, as “there was never any issue that ever came up with clients or other therapists in regards to behavior.”
The many massages led to LR becoming familiar with Davis’ style of massaging, saying “he tended to do a lot of gliding strokes” while being adept at varying the amount of pressure.
Mr. Gocke moved on to discuss certain techniques used on the lower back and upper glutes (gluteal muscles of the buttocks), as these were areas massaged by Davis during the session with the client who came in with concerns about the area surrounding her IT band (iliotibial band, the tissue that runs from the gluteal muscles ouside the leg to the knee). According to LR, these areas are commonly addressed for pain relief: “I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a client who didn’t want that area massaged. Pretty much everyone has lower back pain.”
In regard to specific treatment for an IT band issue, LR told the prosecutor that the band is not simply a muscle to be worked; rather, it is connective tissue and the attached muscles to the tissue along with those near it must be massaged to properly address the issue.
In a cross-examination for the prosecution, Mr. De Moura repeatedly established how appropriate it would be for a massage therapist to touch a client’s genitals.
LR said if someone is wearing undergarments, the therapist is not to reach into them but rather must work through the sheet covering their body. A therapist is not meant to make a decision to go under any undergarments without discussion and consent with a client.
“You would not touch the genitals in a therapeutic massage,” said LR.
LR firmly believes in Davis’ reputation, as she would sometimes be in the room when he massaged clients and never saw Davis rubbing genitals.
She made the distinction, however, that she does know not if Davis’ reputation followed him or how he treated clients in Davis.