South Walton Massage Therapist Arrested for Sexual Battery

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SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WMBB)- A massage is usually a time for relaxing but, a local lady was quickly caught off-guard when she says her massage therapist took it too far.

The victim told deputies, that she went in for a massage to relax and what she experienced during it was quite the opposite. She says, it was inappropriate and the masseuse’s actions crossed the line.

James Vonderheide,49, of DeFuniak Springs, was working at the Ocean Element Spa in Santa Rosa Beach when the incident happened.

Vonderheide is now facing serious charges including felony sexual battery and simple battery.

“For all intents and purposes, sexual battery is a rape. When you digitally penetrate someone without their consent, that is, that’s rape. That’s a sexual battery,” explained Corey Dobridnia, Walton County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer.

The woman went to get a massage at 10:00 A.M. The masseuse, Vonderheide walked her through what he was going to do. “Nowhere did he insinuate that he was going to inappropriately touch her,” said Dobridnia.

The victim says, he inappropriately touched her breasts and vaginal area during her massage.

“She was so mortified she went home and told her husband,” shared Dobridnia.

The husband then went back to the spa to confront Vonderheide.

“(Vonderheide) admitted to the husband, “Hey, you know I knew it was wrong. I’m sorry,” said Dobridnia.

“If someone touches you without your consent, that is sexual battery. If you think you may have been a victim to this in the past, we encourage you to come forward. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”

At this time, investigators are still working to find out if there are other victims in this case or if this is an isolated incident. We will keep you updated.

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