Lawsuit: Massage therapist sexually touched woman at Doral spa

01/29/2013 2:49 PM

01/30/2013 4:19 AM

A woman who says she was sexually assaulted by a massage therapist is taking to task a Doral spa that continued to employ him after she reported the incident.

A woman in her early 20s went to Doral Golf Resort & Spa for a massage in May 2010, according to a lawsuit filed by Boca Raton attorney Jeff Herman on Tuesday morning. She requested a female masseuse, but when she arrived at the spa, was assigned to a male massage therapist named John Pacheco.

During the massage, Pacheco grabbed at the woman’s breasts and genitals. She immediately reported Pacheco’s behavior to spa managers, who gave her a credit for the cost of her massage.

Officials at the Doral spa, which celebrity developer Donald Trump bought for $150 million last February, said they are not familiar with the case and not able to comment immediately because the alleged assaults happened under previous ownership.

Herman, who specializes in sexual abuse cases, said the spa never reported the incident to the Florida Department of Health, and Pacheco remained employed. Over the course of the summer, he allegedly assaulted two other women, who Herman also represented.

Those two cases were resolved, although the terms are confidential. No criminal charges have been filed.

“I’m baffled all the time in these cases why they’re not acting the first time,” Herman said of the spa.

Apparently, Pacheco was fired after the third complaint, and voluntarily gave up his massage therapy license to the Florida Department of Health in fall 2010.

The first woman, who was brushed off by spa managers, is horrified that more women were sexually assaulted after she reported Pacheco in May 2010, Herman said.

Now, she wants her day in court.

Herman said Tuesday that the amount of money he is pursuing is “significant, they’re millions.” But, he added, the money is symbolic compared to the trauma felt by the women.

“They’re victims,” he said. “They’re suffering. They’ve been in therapy. It changes their lives.”

Before training as a massage therapist, Pacheco worked in the spa’s engineering department, where he was accused of sexually harassing female spa employees, Herman said.

Another former employee of the spa, David Munoz, was accused of sexually assaulting three women during massages in 2010 and 2011.

He was charged with one count of sexual battery. Two of the three cases are still pending.

Herman said Munoz continued to work at the spa after the first incident, which he said was also reported immediately to spa managers.

This is the sixth sexual assault lawsuit Herman has filed against Doral Golf Resort & Spa since 2011.

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