NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Before Tarek Mentouri was known in Nashville as a massage therapist under criminal investigation for inappropriate sexual behavior towards customers and job seekers, MTV viewers knew him as Issac, a man revealed on the show “Catfish” for pretending to be someone he wasn’t.
The popular TV show features hosts tracking down people who pretend to be someone they are not, often in romantic situations with others, and bringing together the victim and the “catfish.”
In the 2015 episode, Mentouri admitted to convincing a young woman he had communicated with online that he was someone else, sending her a fake picture.
“You don’t think there’s anything wrong with deceiving people?” asked the woman identified as Courtney.
“No, I didn’t know what to think, I didn’t feel comfortable at first. I got caught,” Mentouri said.” This was dishonest and I have to apologize.”
In the episode, Mentouri talks about training to become a massage therapist.
“I’m working on a massage therapy license. I’ve had a portable table I’ve used for years on a lot of friends,” Mentouri said.
News4 Investigates has reported that 15 women in Middle Tennessee have come forward claiming Mentouri exhibited inappropriate sexual behavior during massages and job interviews.
Mentouri repeatedly told News4 Investigates he’s done nothing wrong.
Our investigation also found that women filed complaints with the state department of health as far back as 2017, but the state did not revoke his license until this August.
It means women repeatedly went to Mentouri for massages, and experienced what they describe as sexual assault, without knowing the state was conducting an investigation into him.
At a news conference this week, News4 Investigates was able to ask Dr. Lisa Piercey, commissioner of the department of health, about their investigation.
“Many of the women are upset with the state asking why did this take so long? Do you have answers as to why this took so long?” asked News4 Investigates.
“I’m unfamiliar with the case you’re referencing, but I can unequivocally tell you that it is unacceptable at every single level for a practioner to have any inappropriate contact with a customer or client. Thank you for that heads up, and I’ll be sure to take that back to licensure,” Piercey said.
“But is it acceptable to you for it taking this long to have a hearing that’s this serious?” News4 Investigates asked.
“I won’t comment on the merits of that case until we know more,” Piercey said.
“We’d like to talk to you when you find out,” News4 Investigates said.
“Sure,” Piercey said.
But when News4 Investigates asked today for an interview, a spokeswoman for the department of health said PIercey wasn’t available, writing, “Even if founded, every violation does not rise to the level of the suspension or revocation of the practitioner’s license. Investigations can be complex and take time, particularly as new witnesses or allegations come to light.”