Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco jury awards $47.4M in massage sexual battery case

Raul Delarosa is on the hook for $35 million in punitive damages.

Raul Delarosa is on the hook for $35 million in punitive damages.

DADE CITY — A former massage therapist and the company he worked for were ordered to pay $47.4 million to a woman who sued after a massage turned into sexual battery more than two years ago.

A Pasco jury of four women and two men deliberated about two hours Thursday after about two days of testimony, the woman's attorneys said.

"The jury was definitely sending a message to spas and massage centers all over the country with this verdict, no question," said Tom Roebig, an attorney for the woman along with his partner, Wil Florin.

The 35-year-old woman, identified during the trial only as Jane Doe, said she had gone to Essentials Massage and Facials in Wesley Chapel on Jan. 25, 2012, to relieve pain from a neck injury.

She said Raul Alberto Delarosa, who was assigned by the staff, took her to a room and told her to disrobe and cover up with a blanket while he waited outside.

When he returned and began the massage, he touched her genitals as she lay face down on the table, her attorneys said in the lawsuit.

"She was scared to death," Florin said. "She didn't know if he had a knife. She just lay there until it was over."

She later went to a hospital and reported the incident to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies sent her back to the spa with a wire, when she talked with Delarosa about the incident. Deputies then arrested him on a sexual battery charge.

He received 10 years of probation in a plea deal on Aug. 22, 2013, and lost his state license. He also had to register as a sex offender.

During the civil trial in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court, testimony revealed that Essentials did not perform a background check on Delarosa, who had been fired from three previous jobs, Florin said.

Sean Conahan, who represented Essentials, did not return messages Thursday. Delarosa represented himself and also could not be reached.

Essentials has since been sold to an owner not connected to the incident.

The jury found that Delarosa committed an intentional act that damaged the woman and found both Delarosa and Essentials negligent.

It awarded her $420,000 for past and future actual damages and $12 million for past and future pain and suffering.

Jurors also found Delarosa liable for $35 million in punitive damages.

Florin said the plaintiff's attorneys would collect whatever they could from insurance and assets, but they likely won't be able to collect a dime from Delarosa.

"I don't think he's got $35 lying around," Florin said. "But the jury clearly wanted to send a message that if you're a man and you're putting your hands on a woman behind closed doors in a massage therapy establishment, it's totally unacceptable for you to do anything of a heinous nature."

As for his client, Florin said, she is being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder.

"She's certainly relieved it's over," he said. "She brought this case because she didn't want this happening to other women."

Pasco jury awards $47.4M in massage sexual battery case 08/28/14 [Last modified: Thursday, August 28, 2014 9:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Hulk Hogan talks Tampa Bay, depression and politics on Fox News' 'Objectified'

    Blogs

    For better or worse, Terry "Hulk Hogan" Bollea is our guy.

    Hulk Hogan shows Harvey Levin his wrestling boots on Fox News' "Objectified."
  2. Pumpkin pileup: Fiery crash causes mess, closes portion of I-75 in Pasco

    Accidents

    Drivers on Interstate 75 in Pasco County should expect continued delays on Friday as road crews work to clean up a mess of debris — and pumpkins — left behind after a fiery semitrailer truck crash in the early morning hours.

    Road crews clean up a mess of crash debris - and pumpkins - left behind after a fiery semitrailer truck crash on Interstate 75 in Pasco County on Sept. 22, 2017. [Florida Highway Patrol]
  3. Cannon Fodder podcast: Key matchups in Bucs-Vikings game

    Blogs

    In our latest Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast, Greg Auman breaks down five key matchups that will help decide Sunday's Bucs game against the Minnesota Vikings.

    Defensive lineman Chris Baker is a question mark heading into Sunday's game against the Vikings.
  4. Rick and Tom podcast: Will Bucs go 2-0? Are Gators on upset alert?

    Blogs

    It's football friday as Rick Stroud and Tom Jones break down the Bucs' game in Minnesota, including the improved offensive line.

    Ali Marpet moved from guard to center on an improved Bucs offensive line.
  5. In this Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, photo distributed on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers a statement in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's speech to the United Nations, in Pyongyang, North Korea. Kim, in an extraordinary and direct rebuke, called Trump "deranged" and said he will "pay dearly" for his threats, a possible indication of more powerful weapons tests on the horizon. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. [Associated Press]