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Woman Says Masseur Sexually Assaulted Her

MARIETTA, Ga. (CN) - A masseur sexually assaulted a woman during her massage, telling her, "I just think you are so pretty," the woman claims in court.

Victoria King sued Brandon D. Knox and Abundant Living Inc. dba Massage Envy, in Cobb County Court.

She claims that after Knox assaulted her, she learned that the spa had received similar complaints against him but did not investigate or fire him.

Massage Envy is a national chain with more than 800 outlets, it says on its home Internet page.

King says she worked as a receptionist at a Massage Envy franchise in Atlanta, where she "was instructed by the manager ... to allow defendant Knox to give her a massage."

She complied.

"When Defendant Knox entered the room, Victoria asked him about his wife and children," the complaint states. "She did not say or do anything to invite improper advances or physical intimacy of any sort at that time or any time thereafter.

"Near the end of the prescribed massage period, Knox pulled the sheet covering Victoria's buttocks all the way down to the top of her legs, fully exposing her buttocks, and inserted his fingers into Victoria's vagina several times in succession.

"As he began moving his fingers in and out of Virginia's vagina, Knox leaned over, put his lips close to Victoria's ear and said, 'Do you want something else massaged?' or words to that effect.

"Victoria was shocked and frightened by Knox's conduct and sexual aggression and immediately pulled away from his fingers, told him to stop, and pulled the sheet up to her lower back to recover her buttocks.

"Knox responded by telling Victoria, 'I just think you are so pretty.'"

Then, King claims, Knox intentionally harmed her for rejecting him.

"Knox removed his fingers from Victoria's vagina when she screamed for him to stop and drew away but he did not cease his inappropriate and unwanted contact with her body," the complaint states. "During the few minutes of required massage time remaining, Knox pressed hard on a pressure point on Victoria's shoulder time and time again, causing her pain and extreme anxiety and resulting in a deep bruise.

"From the rough and painful way Knox continued with the massage, Victoria senses that Knox was furious with her for rejecting him. She was afraid of Knox and did not know what to do so she lay perfectly still on the table and tried to control her breathing and keep herself from crying for the few remaining minutes of the massage."

When Knox left the room, King says, it took her some time "to collect herself and recover from the shock of what had just happened to her."

"Knox waited outside the massage room and grabbed Victoria's arm and tried to pull her back into the room as she was leaving. Victoria resisted and refused to go back into the room with Knox.

"At that time, Knox apologized to Victoria for what he had done to her and asked her, 'Are we cool?'

"One of Victoria's co-workers witnessed this exchange and heard Knox apologizing to Victoria for touching her improperly."

King says she told a co-worker what Knox had done to her, and that the co-worker reported it to (nonparty) Katherine Kelly, an owner of Massage Envy's parent company, Abundant Living.

She says Kelly "came to the business location and met with defendant Knox, who admitted the incident and apologized to her for touching Victoria improperly."

"Defendant Knox later admitted the sexual assault to the police as well and subsequently pled guilty to criminal battery," according to the complaint.

It continues: Kelly later told Victoria that before defendant Knox sexually assaulted Victoria, Kelly was aware of two complaints of similar assaults by Knox within the prior year, one by a customer and one by a female employee, both of whom said that Knox had touched their vaginas during massages.

"Defendant Massage Envy did not investigate either incident, did not fire Knox or take any disciplinary or corrective action against Knox as a result of these prior incidents, and did not take any steps to prevent Knox from repeating such conduct in the future."

King seeks punitive damages for assault and battery, outrage, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, privacy invasion and premises liability.

She is represented by David Currie, with Glaser, Currie & Bullman, of Atlanta.

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