Masseuse sentenced to 15 years for sexual battery

L.A. County Superior Court in San Fernando.

A Santa Clarita Valley massage therapist was sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to eight counts of sexual battery by fraud, two counts of lewd acts on a child and one count of rape of an unconscious person, a spokesman for the L.A. County district attorney’s office said Thursday. 

Jorge Panama, 57, of Hawthorne, was sentenced as part of a plea deal in which five additional counts against him, including forcible sexual penetration by a foreign object, three counts of sexual battery and one count of lewd and lascivious acts against a minor, were dismissed. 

He’s also required to abide by lifetime registration as a sex offender when he’s released, according to the DA’s office. 

Panama was first arrested on suspicion of sexual assault in October 2018, after Santa Clarita Valley deputies were called to Stretch Therapeutic Healing in Newhall, which was also identified as Massage Plus Healing. 

Panama was taken into custody at the Lyons Avenue location, which is between Arcadia Street and Newhall Avenue. 

A case was initially brought forth by District Attorney Jackie Lacey, who ultimately dropped the charges before they were brought to trial due to insufficient evidence at the time, according to previous reporting in The Signal. 

Panama was rearrested in September 2021, and after news reports detailing the allegations from one of his victims were published, a half-dozen more victims came forward. 

“Over the course of these massages, he would sexually assault the victim, telling them that (the alleged assaults) would help them relax,” according to a statement by Sgt. Brian Hudson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Victims Unit, around the time of the arrest. 

The assaults took place over several years, Hudson added, and one of Panama’s eight victims reported that the massage therapist also forced intercourse.  

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