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Massage Today
December, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 12

2011 Heroes of the Profession

They Led The Way In Push For Anti-Human Trafficking Law

By Kathryn Feather, Senior Associate Editor

Massage Today is pleased to announce that the board members of the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC), California State Senator Lou Correa and Orange County California District Attorney Tony Rackauckas are the winners of the 2011 Heros of the Profession award.

As a collective group, these individuals worked tirelessly to pass California Senate Bill 285, the anti-human trafficking legislation that makes it a misdemeanor to sell phony massage school transcripts.

The process began when the CAMTC discovered patterns in which certain "schools" seemed to have large numbers of graduating students with prostitution arrest records. The CAMTC brought in an undercover investigator who discovered that these "graduates," mostly women of South Asian and South American descent, were part of a vast network of human traffickers profiting from prostitution.

The investigation proved that criminals were selling and distributing fake massage school transcripts in order to obtain work permits for prostitutes. Amazingly, prior to the investigation by the CAMTC, it was legal to sell a fake transcript in the state. Transcripts, along with criminal history records, are key credentials in the state's massage therapist certification system that allows therapists to practice legally.

Heroes of the Profession - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark The undercover investigator found that human traffickers were selling phony massage school transcripts so prostitutes could pose as legitimate therapists and work or operate massage parlors that are nothing more than fronts. The investigator told Massage Today that these suspected bogus "schools" were targeted based on tips, police information and analysis of data collected by the CAMTC.

"Police departments who work with us, gave us every prostitution arrest along with the name of the schools they claimed they had gone to," said the investigator. Information was also obtained from the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, as well as states like Texas that maintain close records of prostitution arrests.

With the support of the CAMTC and Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, Senator Lou Correa introduced SB 285 to make providing fraudulent transcripts a misdemeanor subject to specific penalties. The CAMTC is now refusing to accept transcripts from schools identified in the investigation as nothing more than diploma mills. A list of suspect schools can be found on the CAMTC website, www.camtc.org.

"Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world," said Sen. Correa. "The new law will reduce the ease with which human traffickers operate in the State of California."

This law gives, "law enforcement the tools to go after human trafficking at its inception," said District Attorney Rackauckas.

Senate Bill 285 states: "A person who provides a certificate, transcript, diploma or other document, or otherwise affirms that a person has received instruction in massage therapy knowing that the person has not received instruction in massage therapy or knowing that the person has not received massage therapy instruction consistent with that document or affirmation is guilty of a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of not more than two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) per violation, or imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment 628.5. For any person that is criminally prosecuted for a violation of law in connection with massage therapy, including for crimes relating to prostitution, the arresting law enforcement agency may provide to the California Massage Therapy Council, created pursuant to Section 4600.5 of the Business and Professions Code, information concerning the massage therapy instruction received by the person prosecuted, including the name of the school attended, if any."

"The CAMTC Board is honored to receive this award from Massage Today," said CAMTC Board Member, Dixie Wall. "The passage of SB 285 allows us to continue to fight human trafficking and helps us in furthering our mission of protecting the public. We would also like to thank Sen. Correa and District Attorney Rackauckas for all of their help and support in getting this bill introduced, passed and signed by Governor Brown."

California Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill on August 1, 2011, following unanimous passage by the State Senate and the Assembly. The law takes effect on January 1, 2012.

For their tireless efforts in pursuing the demise of the dangerous and destructive human trafficking industry, for protecting the public and the profession of legitimate massage therapists in the State of California, Massage Today is proud to award the CAMTC Board, Senator Lou Correa and District Attorney Tony Rackauckas the 2011 Massage Today Heros of the Profession Award.

 

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