Despite groping accusations, Goodyear massage therapist remains licensed

Goodyear Police confirm that seven more victims have come forward in the Christopher Esteen case.
Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 10:43 AM MST
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GOODYEAR, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — We reported back in December that the massage therapist was accused of groping two women. Yet, if you check the state’s website, Esteen is still listed as a licensed massage therapist in good standing.

Now, Goodyear Police confirm that seven more victims have come forward in the Christopher Esteen case.

Arizona’s Family Investigates confirmed the Arizona State Board of Massage Therapy has met since charges against Esteen were first filed in 2022. The Board has the option to suspend or revoke Esteen’s license but, so far, has chosen not to.

Arizona’s Family Investigates spoke with one of the women Esteen is accused of inappropriately touching. “I was inappropriately touched,” one victim said, asking that we not identify her. “It was a full hour of a massage, being touched,” she explained. “I was more or less frozen. I was, I was confused, as well.” She said it happened in September at Backfit Health and Spine’s Goodyear location. The victim added she didn’t tell him to stop. “I did not. He, I just felt very vulnerable,” she explained.

An investigator who handles cases like this says that’s common, and people need time to process traumatic experiences.

Hours later, the victim said her husband called Backfit to inform them of what happened. She later wrote a detailed description of what took place. “They did their own internal investigation, the person had denied what they had done, and they closed it from there,” she said. That’s when she went to the police.

During an interview, Goodyear Police detectives questioned Esteen about a second victim who’d come forward. Esteen claimed she was “flirting” with him. He acknowledged it was possible his hand slipped under her underwear. In a follow-up question, police said he admitted he “always massages the breasts of women he’s giving massages to.” Since the original charges were filed, Goodyear Police confirmed seven more victims had come forward with similar stories.

Arizona’s Family Investigates stopped by his home to get his side. Esteen said he did nothing wrong. “Fighting with everything that I got. I feel I was falsely accused,” Esteen said through the door. Arizona’s Family asked him, “In the court documents, it sounds like you admitted to inappropriately touching one of the women.” Esteen responded, “It sounds like a lie. It sounds like a lie.”

He said he was no longer giving massages, but the concern is he could. The State Board of Massage Therapy still shows Esteen is licensed with no complaints reflected on his record. Arizona’s Family Investigates asked the board investigator, David Elson, why. “His license is active until such time disciplinary action is taken against him; then that would change,” Elson said. Cutler asked why the Board wouldn’t take action. “It is our understanding that he is on house arrest,” Elson explained.

Then Arizona’s Family Investigates showed him the massage business Esteen has registered with the Arizona Corporation Commission, Barehand Therapy. The mailing address listed is his parents’ home, across the street from where he lives. Elson seemed surprised by that information.

A judge ruled “he cannot work as a massage therapist” as a condition of his release. Suspending Esteen’s license came up at the Board’s January meeting, but they chose not to act. The victim left disappointed. “Hopefully, he won’t have it much longer; that was my reasoning for filing the complaints,” she said.

She’s hired an attorney, Simon Touma, and filed a lawsuit. It accuses Backfit of medical negligence and negligent supervision. “An individual working for a company was overlooked, and not properly supervised in conducting his therapeutic services,” Touma said.

Arizona’s Family Investigates contacted the Goodyear Medical Group, which owns the Goodyear Backfit location. They declined our request for an interview. In a statement, they wrote:

They said Esteen started working for them back in August 2021. He’s been indicted, and his trial is set to begin in June.

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