State regulators newly appointed by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey suspended a Flagstaff massage therapist’s license on Friday after alleging he failed to report a recent sexual abuse charge and his application for a massage therapy license to have faked.
The Arizona State Board of Massage Therapy opened an investigation into Timothy A. Williams’ massage license last week following requests from The Arizona Republic on Williams’ 2002 sexual abuse conviction and current indictment.
The board of directors voted on Friday to suspend Williams immediately. The vote was unanimous, 5-0.
“There are enough concerns here that I believe, for public safety reasons, need a suspension for us to investigate further,” said board member and licensed massage therapist Michael Tapscott, one of five newly appointed board members.
It is expected that an evidence hearing on the allegations and possible violations of state law will take place within 60 days.
The claims about Williams focus on both new and old subjects.
Williams, 67, was charged with double sexual abuse on August 30 after a five month investigation by Flagstaff police. A client told officials Williams rubbed her bare breasts with her hands during two massages in 2020. The client was undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer and sought massage as part of her treatment regimen, according to a police report. This criminal case is pending before the Flagstaff Justice Court.
the Massage therapy board claimed on Friday that Williams failed to report the criminal charges to state regulators within 10 working days as required by law. Williams told the board at its meeting on Friday that he expected his former lawyer to report the charges.
The board was also concerned about a 2002 crime conviction that Williams failed to disclose when he applied for his massage license in 2011.
He told the board that he had not disclosed the conviction because it was later overturned.
Since the conviction was overturned in 2004, “the person is not considered to have a criminal record. Therefore, I did not answer the question in the original application in the affirmative,” he said.
License documents obtained by The Republic under the Arizona Public Records Act Show Williams was asked when he applied for a massage license in 2011 if he had ever been disciplined by a licensing authority.
He replied “no”.
But in fact he had been disciplined by another governing body, the Arizona State Board of Physiotherapy. Documents show that his license to practice physiotherapy was suspended for one year in 1994 after the board said he had a sexual relationship with a client.
Then, in 2002, he gave up his physical therapy license after being accused of touching another client’s genitals. That same year, a Coconino County Supreme Court jury found him guilty of sexual abuse. He was sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation, although court records indicate that the conviction was later overturned by another judge in 2004.
Several years later, in 2011, Williams applied for and obtained a massage license in Arizona, which raised the question of how thoroughly he was vetted by the state Massage Therapy Board.
The regulator has recently come under fire for dealing with complaints of sexual abuse against masseurs. Ducey recently replaces the entire massage therapy board after a five month investigation into the republic for sexual abuse. Friday marked the first date of the newly appointed board members. That investigation found that the previous board allowed some therapists to continue working even after allegations of sexual assault or workplace misconduct, and included a database of more than 80 licensed therapists who had disciplined or received letters from the board in response to sexual abuse cases .
Williams’ licensing clearance also raises the question of how thoroughly regulators can screen applicants who may have been fined by other Arizona regulators. The state does not have a central database that contains the discipline history for all licensed health professions; Each regulatory board maintains its own discipline history. A centralized system would allow the boards to check each other to make sure applicants aren’t buying a license – they lose their license in one profession and then try to get a license in a related profession.
Williams held a physical therapy license from the 1989-2002 Arizona State Board of Physiotherapy, according to the approval documents. This board is a separate regulator from the Massage Therapy Board.
Licensing records show that the Physical Therapy Board suspended his license for one year in 1994 after the board said he was having a sexual relationship with a client identified as “TB”.
The board’s order states that he committed unprofessional conduct in violation of state law, “which constitutes immorality or misconduct that tends to discredit the physical therapy profession.”
The board asked Williams to read at least 10 articles on ethics and submit a written summary of each article.
This wouldn’t be the last time Williams crossed the board’s radar. Following his sexual abuse charge in 2002, Williams agreed to voluntarily relinquish his license on the allegations and signed an consent agreement with the Physical Therapy Board in September 2002.
The board’s order states that he violated state law by engaging in sexual misconduct. State law prohibits physical therapists from making sexual advances or sexual relationships with their patients. They are also prohibited from seeing a naked patient unless it has to do with diagnosing and treating the patient according to practice standards.
Williams told the Massage Therapy Board on Friday that it was “my own oversight” that he failed to disclose the 1994 license parole when he later applied for a massage therapy license.
Williams has not responded to multiple phone calls asking for comments from The Republic. Court records available to the public do not contain the name of his lawyer.
He worked in the Flagstaff area for many years. Earlier this week, Mary Kuzell-Babbitt, a member of a prominent Arizona family, wrote a Letter in support of Williams to the Massage Therapy Board and asked the board members not to suspend his license.
Kuzell-Babbitt said in the letter that she has known therapist Timothy Williams since 1998 and called him a qualified professional who helps people heal. She wrote that he treated Kuzell-Babbitt, members of her family and many friends and acquaintances.
“The revocation of Mr. Williams’ license would harm him and his ability to earn a living,” said the letter received from the Republic through a public record request. “It would rob its customers of its services and that would be a tragedy and a waste.”
Kuzell-Babbitt is a member of the Babbitt family with deep roots in Arizona. Her husband Paul is a former mayor of Flagstaff. He is the brother of former Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt, who later served as Secretary of the Interior to then President Bill Clinton.
Her most recent letter to the Massage Therapy Board is at least the second time she has served as a character witness for Williams. Kuzell-Babbitt was one of two people called to testify on his behalf when he successfully passed a sexual abuse conviction in 2004 by Coconino County Superior Court Judge Mark R. Moran, according to court records let pick up.
Williams had worked as a licensed physical therapist for many years when in 2002 a woman who was a client and dance partner claimed he had sexually touched her genitals during a massage at his home. Mentioning the subsequent criminal case from 2002 in her most recent letter to the Massage Therapy Board, Kuzell-Babbitt says she knows all the parties and the facts and has seen many parts of the process.
She called the matter an “adult misunderstanding”.
“I’m confident Tim wouldn’t do this again,” she wrote. “I am also aware that Judge Mark Moran put that conviction aside and allowed him to apply for a no-record massage license,” she wrote recently in her letter to the Massage Therapy Board.
Kuzell-Babbitt, who was reached by phone this week, briefly told the Republic, “I hold Tim Williams very high,” but declined to comment.
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