Stan Lee has created a lot of iconic characters over the years — some good, some bad. But in a recent scandal out of Chicago, the Marvel Comics legend is the one at the center of the story, and he is certainly not depicted as the superhero.
Rather, Lee is being sued by a massage therapist for sexual assault. Emboldened by the #MeToo movement, she says she overcame her fears and decided to come forward.
Maria Carballo was an independent contractor with Therapy Professionals when she was asked to give a two-hour massage to a client at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago on April 21, 2017. According to the complaint, Lee began to fondle himself 30 minutes into the massage. At that point, she asked him to turn over “in an attempt to diffuse the situation.” She says that when Lee began to moan and groan approximately one hour into the massage, Carballo ended the session.
However, she says Therapy Professionals contacted her repeatedly the next day, relayed an apology from Lee, and asked her to give him another massage, emphasizing the need to appease VIP clients. She agreed reluctantly, but again stopped the massage when Lee began moaning and groaning. She says Lee became angry, stood up from the massage table naked, and demand she continue. Caballo states that she feared for her job and continued the massage with her feet (Shiatsu method) to give her some distance. She alleges Lee then “grabbed plaintiff’s food and moved it against his penis and scrotum.” With that, Carballo ended the massage, received $240 for the massage, and was handed a “wad of money” by Lee’s assistant, Mac Anderson.
Masseuse Seeks Damages, Lawyer Calls It a “Shakedown”
Carballo’s lawsuit against Lee accuses him of sexual assault, battery, violation of the Illinois Gender Violence Act, and emotional distress. She’s seeking $50,000 for each count and attorney’s fees.
Jonathan Freund, an attorney for Lee, called the lawsuit a “shakedown,” and said that Lee was shocked by the allegations. “The guy is 95, I don’t think he would do that,” Freund commented. However, it’s also not the first time Lee has been accused of sexually inappropriate behavior. A number of nurses accused Lee in January of groping and sexually harassing them while they cared for him at his Hollywood home.
While every defendant deserves his or her day in court, every victim also deserves to be heard and believed. If you were the victim of sexual assault, speak to an attorney who can discuss your options for seeking justice.