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Why Virginia day spas kept hiring a serial predator

Posted at 4:31 PM, Jul 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-21 13:09:19-04

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- Chaz Roca had no hesitations when she stepped into a Williamsburg Massage Luxe on December 15 of last year.

"I went in there to release some stress, some muscle knots that were accumulating here," Roca said.

But by the time she stepped out of the spa, she had become a victim of sexual assault.

"I was scared, I didn't know what to do," Roca said.

Roca had no idea but the man massaging her that day, Shawn Robinson, had done this before at spas roughly 60 miles down Interstate 64 in the Richmond area.

"Whoever is involved put me under the hand of him, and this is something I will never forget, it's traumatizing," Roca said.

The story is convoluted and full of communication breakdowns and failures that allowed a serial predator to continue getting access to women in their most vulnerable state: naked and alone on a massage table.

"This was entirely preventable?" CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipolit asked Roca.

"Yes, and that's the saddest part is this didn't need to happen to me, I didn't need this," she replied.

It all started when Robinson was accused by two women of assaulting them during massages at a Chesterfield Massage Envy in February 2018.

A grand jury indicted him for raping one of the women in March 2019. Yet six months later, two women reported Robinson to the Board of Nursing for allegedly touching them in ways they were not comfortable with during massages at Massage Luxe in Richmond.

In one case, the woman told a board investigator she fought Robinson off as he tried to put his finger in her anus.

"He gets to move locations and then he gets to practice as nothing has ever happened? I'm sorry but that's insane," Roca said.

So why was Robinson not in jail?

We found the rape indictment in March 2020 as part of a CBS 6 investigation and asked Chesterfield Police why Robinson was never arrested.

Chesterfield Police said the indictment was entered into their system but they did not know he had been indicted so they never tried to find him.

Because of our inquiry, police immediately arrested Robinson.

Prosecutors and Robinson entered into a plea deal in July 2020. He was convicted of the lesser charge of misdemeanor sexual battery and sentenced to four months behind bars.

But, the story did not end there.

"There was a failure to protect these people," Brand Bovell, the owner of the Old Mechanicsville Health Spa said.

In August 2020, Bovell was looking to hire a massage therapist.

"I got a resume through Indeed for Shawn Robinson," Bovell said.

She did what she always does with applicants and looked Robinson up on the Virginia Department of Health Professions website, and Googled him.

She found the CBS 6 investigation and a board investigation into his conduct.

"Reading through it, those stories are awful and it made me sick to my stomach reading that," Bovell said.

Yet, Robinson still had an active license to practice massage.

Why?

The board can only suspend a license immediately without a hearing if a licensee is convicted of a felony. Police and courts are not required to report the conviction of a licensee to the board.

"Something needs to be fixed. The system is not working," Bovell said.

Bovell was so concerned that she wrote a letter to the Board of Nursing.

"There is a history, there is a pattern here, why does he still have a license?" Bovell asked.

She said an investigator contacted her right away. Despite that, the board did not suspend Robinson's license until October 30, 2020.

In the meantime, Robinson got a job at the Massage Luxe in Williamsburg in August 2020.

Massage Luxe told us they conducted a background check on Robinson and he did have a valid license when they hired him.

"It doesn't make sense to me, how long does it take? A predator is out there putting hands on women on a daily basis," Roca said.

Robinson went on to sexually assault five women, including Roca at the Williamsburg Massage Luxe between August 2020 and December 2020.

Roca stopped him when she was the first to report him to the police and speak out publicly with us in December.

"Sorry I'm trying not to cry, I felt like my story was validated, even though I knew what happened to me, the fact that others came out," Roca said.

Now that Robinson has been convicted in her case and the four others, Roca is moving forward with her life.

She adopted a dog and named him Onyx, which she said is a chakra that symbolizes positive energy.

"I call him my therapy dog," Roca said. "He definitely makes me happy."

But in her quest to release negative energy, she hopes someone or something will be held accountable for allowing Shawn Robinson to continue to put his hands on women.

"Whoever is involved put me under the hand of him, and this is something I will never forget, it's traumatizing," Roca said.

State Senator Siobhan Dunnavant (R - Henrico) who served on the Board of Medicine for three years and now sits on the Senate subcommittee that oversees Virginia's health professions, said "this must never happen again" when we told her about the case

She said she is in touch with the leader of the Virginia Department of Health Professions, Dr. David Brown, and exploring legislation that would prevent this from happening.

"This is exactly what legislation is for," Sen. Dunnavant said. "Everybody's intent is the same. They want Virginians protected."

We requested an interview with Doctor Brown but he declined.

We also asked him to comment on the Robinson case, but a spokesperson said he had nothing to add to what Senator Dunnavant said.