Licensed massage therapist Ronald Bruinius is already facing two charges of sexual battery for assaulting female clients on his massage table in Pinellas County last year, and may soon have more trouble on his hands.
Bruinius’ lawyer says investigators are looking at other incidents even as he awaits trial in the Pinellas County Jail on the existing charges.
In a whispered conversation with Pinellas Circuit Judge Thane Covert on March 3rd, Bruinius’ defense attorney Nina Hayden confided that her client is the target of ongoing investigations.
Hayden refused to discuss the matter with us, but 8 On Your Side has now obtained an audio recording of her on the record bench conference conversation with the judge.
"From what I recently found out there could be a potential four more cases coming forward judge," Hayden said. "You're looking at a whole lot of time here and I need to figure out, I need to try to wrap my arms around it."
Hayden complained to the judge that Pinellas prosecutors will not disclose what, if anything, might come out of the ongoing investigations of her client and that was hampering her defense strategy in the case.
Pinellas Sheriff's detectives first arrested Bruinius in December for molesting a 53-year-old woman at the Artistic Expressions Day Spa in Seminole in a July 2013 incident. In January, Pinellas prosecutors filed a second charge of sexual battery against Bruinius for the assault of a 29-year-old woman in a separate incident that the victim said occurred in February 2013 at the same spa.
The victim in the February assault, who lives out of state, agreed to speak with 8 On Your Side on the condition that we not disclose her name.
"There was nothing to be misconstrued about what happened," the woman said. "It was very obvious."
The woman says she’s disturbed that law enforcement and state regulators didn't take action after other prior complaints involving Bruinius.
According to police reports, one of those complaints stemmed from an incident at the Massage Envy spa in Clearwater in September 2012 when a woman complained that Bruinius, who the woman knew as “Brian,” sexually battered her during a massage session.
That woman, who also lives out of state, now tells 8 On Your Side she is “furious” that Pinellas prosecutors decided against filing charges in that case. She thinks Clearwater police did not take seriously her allegations that Bruinius had abused her.
Clearwater police received another complaint against Bruinius in June 2013 from a severely disabled senior citizen who suffered from cerebral palsy. That man, who was unable to move on his own due to his disability, said Bruinius “touched him sexually against his will” while serving as his caregiver according to police records.
At the time Bruinius was a Certified Nursing Assistant in good standing with the state, in addition to having an active license for massage therapy. Records indicate Clearwater police dropped that case at the request of the disabled man.
“The victim is severely disabled and was scared to report the events, however he just wanted it to stop and does not wish to prosecute,” the police report said.
The Department of Children and Families helped investigate the disabled man’s case but there is no indication that Clearwater police or Pinellas Sheriff’s detectives ever notified the Florida Department of Health about their investigations of Bruinius, even though he was licensed as a massage therapist by that state agency.
The Florida Department of Health eventually suspended Bruinius' state massage license on an emergency basis in January 29th, 2014, after the victim of the February 2013 incident filed her own complaint with that agency. Almost a year had passed since the alleged abuse that triggered Bruinius’ suspension.
The victim says after her experience with Bruinius she will never feel comfortable on a massage table again, especially not in Florida.
“I really think that the police and the board of health need to be working much more closely together to help limit the number of victims moving forward,” the woman said. “I thought I was safe. I thought I was protected.”
READ the case documents:
*Clearwater Police report concerning disabled man (WARNING: graphic content)
*Department of Health administrative complaint (WARNING: graphic content)
*Bruinius arrest affidavits (WARNING: graphic content)
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