Social worker and masseur accused of crossing professional boundaries

By: - June 14, 2022 11:16 am

A social worker and a massage therapist are each facing accusations they crossed professional boundaries with their clients. (Photo illustration by Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Two Iowans – one a social worker, and the other a massage therapist — are facing licensing sanctions after being separately accused of crossing professional boundaries with their clients.

Gary D. Howard of Slater surrendered his massage-therapy license to the Iowa Board of Massage Therapy last week.

In a signed statement to the board, Howard said he is aware of a pending complaint against him alleging that he failed to maintain appropriate professional boundaries with a client.

“I deny the complaint’s allegations, but nevertheless wish to forgo the time and expense of a contested case proceeding by surrendering my license,” the statement reads. “I understand that if the board accepts this voluntary surrender, no further investigation of disciplinary action will occur regarding the pending complaint.”

The board on June 7 accepted Howard’s decision to surrender his license, noting that it has the same force and effect as a license revocation.

The board never issued a public statement of charges against Howard.

Social worker faces charges

In a separate case, the Iowa Board of Social Work has filed charges against Mary Limas of Roland.

The board charged Limas with engaging in a dual relationship with a client; engaging in sexual activities with a client; and engaging in sexual activities with a former client within five years of the client relationship being terminated.

The alleged circumstances that gave rise to those charges are redacted from the board’s public statement of charges against Limas. In 2021, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that licensing boards cannot publicly disclose any of the specific allegations or complaints against a licensee until the case is resolved – a process that can take months or even years.

In Limas’ case, a hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 8.

Limas’ social-work license is already on probation. Last August, the board imposed the sanction after charging her with engaging in sexual activities with a client she had kissed.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.