WARNING: This article contains graphic content and may affect those who have experienced sexual abuse or know someone affected by it.
A former Metro Vancouver massage therapist who molested multiple patients and misled investigators has had his licence cancelled for at least 15 years and will have to pay $64,946 in fines and costs.
Steven Anderson of Burnaby committed professional misconduct or unprofessional conduct in his treatment of six patients, a discipline committee panel of the College of Massage Therapists of B.C. found earlier this year.
In a discipline decision published this week, the panel describes the case as "one of the most serious" to ever come before the committee.
"Sexual misconduct is a particularly serious form of misconduct because of the breach of trust and abuse of patients," the decision says.
"The respondent [Anderson] engaged not only in sexual misconduct but in multiple different forms of misconduct, all of which are the most serious kinds of professional violations."
Anderson's registered massage therapy (RMT) licence was cancelled in February 2019 for non-renewal of his registration, according to the college. The discipline decision means he will be banned from applying for reinstatement until October 2037.
"Nothing short of the ultimate penalty of cancellation would be enough to deter the respondent and other members of the profession from committing these types of serious misconduct, to maintain public confidence in the profession and to protect the public," the decision says.
Anderson's discipline also includes a $10,000 fine and $54,946.67 in costs to be paid to the college.
Patient left 'frozen and terrified'
The college's discipline committee previously found that Anderson had massaged the genitals of three female patients without their consent and inserted his finger into a male patient's anus to massage his rectum.
One woman told the committee that Anderson had said he was massaging inside her labia to help with fertility when she had no fertility concerns and had scheduled the appointment to deal with back pain.
She "described feeling completely frozen and terrified. She wanted it to stop but knew she could not protect herself because of how bad her back was," a May 18 decision says.
Another woman, who visited Anderson for relief from a hip injury, testified about "shaking at the bus stop and trying not to cry" after he massaged her vulva at length.
A third woman, herself an RMT and a former student of Anderson's when he was a massage instructor, testified that when she realized Anderson's fingers were inside her vagina, "I started tensing up, slid up the table … trying to get away from his hand."
The discipline committee also heard that Anderson removed blackheads from a patient's back, which is outside the scope of practice for RMTs, performed a massage on an undercover investigator while his licence was suspended, made a medical diagnosis without the proper credentials and failed to keep necessary records of his treatments.
The college says that during its investigation, Anderson provided misleading information about his clinical records as well.
Despite all this, Anderson showed no remorse during disciplinary proceedings.
"The respondent acknowledged some of the conduct; however, he did not admit that his conduct amounted to any wrongdoing. To the contrary, the respondent has remained steadfast in his defiance," the decision says.
"The respondent has demonstrated no insight and has not learned from his behaviour."
Anderson was first licensed as an RMT in 1992. The decision also says that even if Anderson applies to get his licence back in 15 years, it will ultimately be up to the college's registration committee to decide if it should be reinstated.
Support is available for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. You can access crisis lines and local support services through this Government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. If you're in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911.