Massage therapist accused of sexually abusing clients

Cottonwood Heights man charged with three felonies
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A Cottonwood Heights man who police say posed as a licensed massage therapist at a fitness center is accused of sexually abusing two clients.

Robert Battle, 46, was charged Wednesday in 3rd District Court with three counts of second-degree felony forcible sexual abuse in connection with two separate cases last winter with women he picked up at Lifetime Fitness in South Jordan.

In the first case, Battle fondled a client who made an appointment with him following a difficult pregnancy, charging documents state. The woman met Battle at Lifetime Fitness, where she was informed that he had attended medical school and had just passed his medical board exams in another state, according to charges.

Battle told the woman he needed to do "internal work" on her because her body wasn't "holding" prior massage work, charges state. He twice performed what he called a vaginal massage on the woman at a Cottonwood Heights office in June.

In the second case, a woman claimed she also met Battle at Lifetime Fitness and made an appointment with him for help with back pain. She said Battle covered her with a sheet and gave her several massages on her back and legs, charges state.

Eventually, however, he started to perform the massages without the sheet. He told the woman during one massage that he needed to touch "a massage point by her vagina," charges state. The woman allowed Battle to continue the massage because she trusted him, according to charges, but ended the session when he began touching her vagina.

Cottonwood Heights police said Battle is not a licensed massage therapist, but he recently graduated from Myotherapy College of Utah, a massage therapy school, in Salt Lake City.

Company officials at Lifetime Fitness in South Jordan declined to comment Wednesday.

Several supporters of Battle have established a defense fund for him. Testimonials from people claiming to be Battle's clients state he behaved professionally and helped them overcome medical issues.

The latest charges against Battle join two pending cases filed in 3rd District Court in August. In those cases, Battle was charged with three counts of unlawfully conducting a massage, a class C misdemeanor and sexual battery, a class A misdemeanor, for alleged incidents involving clients in November 2008 and July 2009.