Fifteen women have come to News4 Investigates with claims of similar, troubling stories of inappropriate sexual behavior by a massage therapist Tarek Mentouri, and the former member of the massage board is calling the state investigation a "breach in public safety."
Several of the woman have filed police reports or complaints with the state department of health or have email or text communication with Mentouri.
News4 Investigates has confirmed the complaints to the state go back much further than previously known and raise continued questions why it took state investigators so long to hold a hearing to strip Mentouri of his license.
News4 Investigates obtained one complaint to the state from September 2017 in which a woman went for a massage and experienced what police would later call in a report as “provocative sexual assault.”
It would take three years after that for the state board of massage licensure to hold the hearing to revoke Mentouri’s license.
It meant when Mentouri’s former customer Julia Stone went to get a massage in 2019, she had no idea that women had filed complaints about him.
“It was sexual assault,” Stone said in describing what happened during her massage.
Stone said Mentouri rubbed his face on her feet and placed his male genitalia on her hand.
“It was pretty traumatic,” Stone said.
Stone immediately reported the incident to investigators with the department of health as well as police.
When she saw the stories of other women on News4, she said the trauma returned.
“When I saw that news story it kind of destroyed me. I was angry. I was upset,” Stone said. “I hate that it’s happened to so many women. It breaks my heart.
It didn’t need to happen to this many. “
For three days, News4 Investigates asked for an interview from the state department of health to explain their investigation.
Late Friday, we received a statement from a health department spokeswoman, reading in part, “It would be inappropriate for us to discuss this or any other specific disciplinary case, as the licensee may appeal the decision, and we would not want board members who would have to hear this or any future case to be unduly influenced by comments we might make. As previously noted, we cannot provide any information about complaints against licensed health professionals, as they are confidential by statute, and may or may not be founded.”
Faith Fairhope, who served on the state massage licensure board for five years, said it seems there was not enough urgency on the part of state investigators.
“Obviously there has been a breach in public safety. And something needs to be done,” Fairhope said.
News4 Investigates asked if she felt this case exposed flaws in the investigation process by the state.
“Apparently, it definitely is,” Fairhope said. “The whole purpose of the massage therapy board – in relation to the public – is public safety. That’s why this is such an important story that you’re doing.”
As for Mentouri, when News4 Investigates reached out to him by phone and through text on Wednesday, the day in which his license was revoked, we received a text back from someone claiming to be a family member who claimed Mentouri had passed away in Gwinnett County, Georgia.
News4 Investigates checked with police and the county coroner and there are no death reports associated with Mentouri’s name.
Since then, News4 Investigates has obtained responses from Mentouri’s accounts on reddit and other business review sites, written in the past 24 hours, where negative customers responses are challenged.
On reddit, one person expressed surprise at the response from Mentouri’s account.
“****, you’re alive? The news said your family told them you died,” the person wrote.
The account for Mentouri responded, “This is getting really weird.”