KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The massage license of a longtime professor at an East Tennessee college has been suspended by the state licensing board amid accusations he inappropriately touched women while giving massages, according to a suspension order by the Tennessee Massage Licensure Board.

Gary Nicholas Genna, 63 of Knoxville, is due in court this August on a charge of sexual battery, according to Knox County court and state licensing records.

Attorney Austin Lucas, who is defending Genna, said Thursday that, “Mr. Genna will adamantly deny any allegation of professional or ethical misconduct.”

Genna is employed as an associate professor of somatic therapy and as the program director of massage therapy at Roane State Community College in Oak Ridge. A spokeswoman for the college said they are aware of the suspension order and noted that Genna was placed on administrative leave February 1, 2021.

“He [Genna] has not worked with the RSCC Massage Therapy program in any way since then,” the spokeswoman said, adding that the college cannot comment any further at this time.

Criminal court paperwork shows a true bill was returned by the grand jury in August 2021. The presentment of the sexual battery charge refers specifically to a November 2020 incident. A Knox County Sheriff’s Office report shows Genna was arrested by deputies at the City County Building on Sept. 24, 2021.

That same November incident is referenced in the state’s suspension order, along with another incident. Both accounts involve women, identified as former students, who sought massage therapy from Genna.

One victim sought a massage from Genna at his home office for an injury, the report states. There, during treatment, Genna allegedly placed his hand inside the clothing of the victim and rubbed her genitals. The victim reported the incident to law enforcement.

A Knox County Sheriff’s Office report states that the victim “feared for her safety and changed the subject to religion and the suspect laughed.”

Sixteen months after that alleged incident, the massage licensing board determined that Genna is guilty of “willful negligence in the practice of massage” and engaged in unprofessional and unethical conduct while performing the massages by “engaging in overt sexual activity,’ the report states.

“This situation imperatively requires emergency action in order to protect the public health, safety, and welfare prior to the initiation of formal disciplinary charges,” the summary suspension order states.

Genna was offered the opportunity to “give his side of the facts” to the state licensing board on April 5. It is not known at this time if Genna accepted that offer.

The state licensing board also found Genna failed to respect client boundaries with regard to privacy and exposure, and “failure to provide appropriate draping of clients.”

Genna has held a massage therapist license since 1997, according to state records. He was notified of the suspension of his license by certified letter on March 29, records show.

State records show Genna was previously subject to disciplinary action by the state regulatory board once before, for failing the properly maintain sufficient continuing education credits and practicing on an expired license.