Women Say Massage Center Hired Molester

     SEATTLE (CN) – A massage therapy center employed a man who was on professional probation and barred from practicing, and he sexually molested at least two clients, the women say in a class action in King County Court. The women claim The Northwest Massage Center hired John D. Atkinson’s though his massage therapy license had suspended by the state for previous sexual misdeeds.

     One of the named plaintiffs claims she “felt his fingers penetrate her vagina with a circular motion. At the same time, Atkinson massaged [the plaintiff’s] breasts. Afterwards, Atkinson said, ‘I’ve never done this before, this is wild’ and left the room.”
     This plaintiff says that Atkinson’s 1-year suspension and 2 years probation was a result of her complaint. He was still on probation and restricted from treating anyone other than his attorney and members of her office staff when the Northwest Massage Center scheduled him to massage the other named plaintiff, according to the complaint.
     This woman also describes Atkinson’s actions, and claims that in addition to his sexual pawing, he “grabbed her left arm, put it between his legs near his groin, and began to massage it. As he was massaging, Atkinson began to breathe very heavily, almost panting.
     The women claim Northwest Massage Center and its owner, Cheryl Grunenfelder-Garcia, knew about Atkinson’s behavior and probation but continued to employ him. They seek damages for sex and gender discrimination in a public accommodation and negligent hiring and supervision. They are represented by Thaddeus P. Martin of Lakewood.

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