BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — An audit of Louisiana’s massage therapy industry alleges the state’s regulatory board failed to provide adequate oversight to ensure that businesses were not offering sexual services and also dismissed complaints of harassment and signs of human trafficking, according to the report.
The review released Monday by Legislative State Auditor Thomas Cole said the Louisiana Board of Massage lacked clear standards on when to dismiss complaints, including accusations of sexual misconduct.
It found that the board dismissed or closed the investigation of nearly 74% of complaints alleging sexual harassment, unprofessional conduct, advertising of sexual services and signs of human trafficking, The Advocate reported, citing the report.
Auditors called for better processes to handle such complaints and new state laws to improve regulation of unlicensed operations that may be engaging in sexual activity.
The board disputed some of the findings and argued that it already had policies in place to address most of the issues raised. Board leaders contended that the body leaves allegations of prostitution and human trafficking to authorities such as the FBI, and that it has limited authority and resources to address some of the audit’s recommendations, such as imposing fines on unlicensed businesses.
Still, legislators pushed the board to resolve the problems or face intervention from lawmakers.
“It is pretty obvious that we have some issues and we have some work to do with you guys,” state Sen. Jay Luneau, a Democrat from Alexandria, told leaders of the board, “I would encourage you to consider strongly increasing your policing of your own profession.”
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