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Roane State professor charged with sexual battery, massage license suspended after accusations

The Tennessee Massage Licensure Board said it suspended Gary Genna's license in March for sexual activity involving two former students.

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — Editor's Note: Gary Genna's sexual battery charge was dismissed and expunged from his record in Nov. 2022. Court documents show the Tennessee Board of Massage Licensure issued a final order in Feb. 2023 to revoke his massage therapist license, saying the findings were sufficient to show willful negligence, unethical/unprofessional conduct and other violations based on allegations involving a client who was a former student of his. The board initially suspended his license in 2022.

A Roane State Community College professor charged with sexual battery has had his massage therapy license suspended by a state board more than a year after a former student reported an incident to Knox County deputies when she was 19.

The Tennessee Massage Licensure Board suspended 63-year-old Gary Genna's license on March 28, saying he sexually assaulted numerous students at the school and in his home. As of the time of suspension, the board said Genna was still employed by Roane State.

In a statement, Roane State said it placed Genna on administrative leave effective February 1, 2021, after learning about the allegations. The college said he has not worked with its massage therapy program since.

"Roane State is aware of the Order from the Board of Massage Licensure but is not a participant in the proceedings. Roane State cannot comment on the Order because we do not have access to the Board’s file," it said.

According to an incident report from the Knox County Sheriff's Office, Genna is facing one count of sexual battery from an incident that occurred in November 2020. The then-19-year-old victim said she contacted Genna for a massage at his home, saying he put his hands into her underwear and began to touch her genitals during the massage.

According to the report, the victim said she became afraid, saying she left for her home to contact officers.

The state board said it was also aware of a second incident involving a former student. The woman said she had received three massages from Genna, saying the first was "normal" and the second made her "a bit uncomfortable." On the third, the victim said Genna told her to take off all her clothes. The victim said she wanted to keep her bra on, and he told her "no."

According to the board, the victim was draped with a "very thin sheet" that was see-through. The victim said he went on to touch her genitals several times.

"This situation imperatively requires emergency action in order to protect the public health, safety, and welfare prior to the initiation of formerly disciplinary charges," the board concluded when it suspended his license. 

Genna's license will remain suspended until the conclusion of the sexual battery case or until the state board orders otherwise.

Genna is scheduled to appear in court in Knox County at 9 a.m. on August 19. His lawyer, Austin Lucas, gave the following statement: “Mr. Genna adamantly denies any allegation of professional or ethical misconduct.” According to Lucas, Genna's charges are set to be dismissed at his next court date.

According to the Tennessee Massage Licensure Board, Genna has been employed as an associate professor of somatic therapy for roughly 14 years and is the Program Director of Massage Therapy at Roane State. Genna had been licensed since August 1997.

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