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Former New West massage therapist facing discipline for sexual touching

Stephen Bartlett, a former RMT operating in New Westminster, was found to have massaged a patient's breasts without consent, as well as another's butt crack.
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A B.C. massage therapist must pay a $5,000 fine and $20,000 in costs after he was found to have sexually touched female patients.

A former New Westminster massage therapist is facing discipline following allegations of sexually touching two patients, as well as false advertising his services.

The College of Registered Massage Therapists of BC (CMTBC) is set to make a final decision on penalties and costs against Stephen Bartlett, who was found to have inappropriately massaged patients without consent in August 2019 and September 2020.

The decision was made on Aug. 31, 2023, according to a public notice posted to the CMTBC's website.

This, more than a year after the panel convened in May 2022 and eight months after Bartlett's license was ceased on Dec. 31, 2022.

Patient A.A.

Bartlett was found to have breached CMTBC boundaries after massaging between a woman's breasts without consent.

During a session on Aug. 12, 2019, "Patient A.A." told Bartlett she "never had a treatment like this before and that he was smarter than all of his colleagues, or words to that effect."

According to the CMTBC, Bartlett asked A.A., who was lying face down, about issues of incontinence.

He also asked if she liked to party, if she was "Vancouver Australian" or "Whistler Australian," if she had a romantic partner and if she was happy with the relationship.

As well, Bartlett suggested a trip for her and her partner to the Rocky Mountains, while also sharing views on romantic relationships.

The questions are, the CMTBC explained, against the college's boundaries standard of practice.

Later, Bartlett was found to have "manipulated" A.A.'s neck "without adequate or any consent after A.A. had instructed him not to do so."

It was determined he also touched between the patient's breasts and near her right breast without telling her that's where he was going to treat her pain.

Bartlett "failed to adequately adjust treatment and communicate with A.A. after A.A. expressed that she was experiencing pain while he was treating at or near A.A.’s breasts," the notice reads.

Patient B.B.

Bartlett was also found to have placed his thumb in another patient's butt crack during an assessment.

On Sept. 21, 2020, he touched "Patient B.B." on the back, moved to the lower back and down to the tailbone, where he "had his thumb in B.B.'s gluteal cleft" without obtaining their consent.

False advertising

The CMTBC also found that Bartlett had incorrect advertising on his profile.

It was discovered on Nov. 7, 2019, that Bartlett said he "specialized in spinal and pelvic alignment," but those do not exist under CTMBC bylaws.

As well, he claimed to be "Osteopath" and "Arthrokinetic therapist" — titles not listed in under Massage Therapists Regulation and are not approved by the College Board.

"In summary, the panel found that the College had proved the above-mentioned allegations in the citation to the requisite standard," the CTMBC's public notice stated.

"The hearing will now proceed to a decision on penalty and costs."

The CMTBC said it'll update its public notice when an official decision has been made.