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Why did it take so long to revoke massage therapist’s license after crime, and how could he get a license as a felon?

CHICAGO (CBS) — It took the State of Illinois more than seven months to take away a convicted sex offender’s massage therapy license.

CBS 2’s Tara Molina first brought you the story Wednesday on a lawsuit against a suburban Massage Envy location by Christine Schirtzinger – who said massage therapist James “Rob” Garrett sexually violated her at a massage therapy session in 2020.

On Thursday, Molina had questions for the state – which dropped the ball after the sexual abuse had taken place.

Garrett should have had lost his license right away – as soon as he was convicted back in March, according to CBS 2 Legal Analyst Irv Miller.

So why was his license active for more than seven months after the fact? Molina is told one of the state’s departments dropped the ball.

“I wish that I had gotten justice,” Schirtzinger said Wednesday.

Schirtzinger is an Ironman triathlete, coach, and mentor. You first heard from her on CBS 2.

She was sexually abused by Garrett the Massage Envy at Geneva Commons in 2020. It took almost two years – and court hearing after court hearing – to see her criminal complaint against Garrett through.

Garrett ultimately pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempted criminal sexual abuse in March of this year – registering as a sex offender and agreeing to no longer work as a massage therapist.

But the State of Illinois didn’t officially revoke his license until November.

“After everything I’ve gone through – I have gone through 14 hearings, hours of interviews, two years of my life – and this man who’s been convicted of a sex crime is still a licensed massage therapist in the state of Illinois?” Schirtzinger said.

So what took more than seven months?

During those months, Garrett was technically in good standing with the state for anyone who checked his license status.

We asked the Illinois Department if Financial and Professional Regulation. A spokesperson told us the first complaint they have on record is from July 2022, and Illinois State Police – who are in charge of the state sex offender registry – didn’t notify them of the sexual abuse conviction until October. This is the full statement from IDFPR public information officer Chris Slaby:

<blockquote>”As the agency responsible for the oversight of 1.2 million professional licensees, IDFPR is primarily a complaint-driven agency with complaints of potential violations by licensees coming from various sources and entities leading to investigations. No complaint was filed against Mr. Garrett until July 22, 2022. Upon receiving that complaint, IDFPR immediately started its internal and statutory procedures for reviewing complaints. Since massage therapy is a profession that requires fingerprints from applicants for licensure, IDFPR receives notifications of any convictions after a license is issued from Illinois State Police.  IDFPR received notice from ISP in early October of the conviction of an offense requiring registration as a sex offender, which triggered the aforementioned statutory process that led to the revocation of Mr. Garrett’s license on November 7.  That included a 30-day opportunity for Mr. Garrett to request a hearing to contest the basis of the action, which did not occur.”</blockquote>

But still, what took so long?

“He should’ve lost the license,” Miller said.

Our legal analyst said that should have happened right away – and one of the agencies involved had to have dropped the ball. He examined Illinois State Police and how they reported the sex offender status to the state’s licensing agency.

“First thing they should’ve done is run over and say: ‘Hey listen, you know, you’re giving this guy a license – and he’s a convicted sex offender. He shouldn’t be performing massages. You should revoke this license.'”

We are still waiting for Illinois State Police to address the timeline and the delay. There was also no response from the Kane County State’s Attorney’s office on our questions for clarification.

But what can be done to make sure this doesn’t happen again?  And exactly who could be getting massage therapy licenses, despite criminal convictions, right now?

We are taking a closer look at both of those questions, and bringing them to the state, coming up at on the CBS 2 News at 6.

Source: CBS Chicago

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