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Prosecutors: While out on bond, former massage therapist assaulted new victim

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - In what now makes the 19th woman to accuse former massage therapist Tarek Mentouri of a sex crime, a woman testified in court Wednesday that she was assaulted by Mentouri while he was out on bond in April.

News4 Investigates does not identify sexual assault victims unless they grant their permission.

The woman’s testimony came during a hearing in which Mentouri’s lawyer asked for a bond reduction.

MUG - Tarek Mentouri - 5/13/21

MUG - Tarek Mentouri - 5/13/21

Tarek Mentouri has been charged with eight counts of sexual battery, five counts of assault (offensive contact), two counts of harassment, rap…

The woman described being “very scared” after she arrived for a job interview on April 30 to be Mentouri’s personal assistant.

Prosecutors said Mentouri took out the Craigslist ad in which he asked for help running his Airbnb and caring for his mother, who is fighting cancer.

The woman, who said she recently moved to Middle Tennessee and was unaware that Mentouri was out on bond at the time, testified after she was given a tour of the home, he brought her into a room with a massage table.

The woman testified that the only place to sit was on a massage table, and Mentouri asked if he could massage her feet.

“I was not there for a massage. I did not ask for a massage and I told him to stop massaging me,” the woman testified.

Several women told News4 Investigates that Mentouri asked to massage their feet as well and appeared to get sexual gratification from it.

The woman said Mentouri then began masturbating.

“I was trying to get out of the second entrance of the home, and I couldn’t get the door unlocked, and I started to panic a little bit,” she testified. “He unlocked it for me and I got out.”

 

The massage therapist at the center of a year-long News4 Investigates series, accused by more than 15 women of sexually touching them or himself during massages or job interviews, was arrested on Tuesday by Metro Police.

 

Mentouri was arrested on April 13 for impersonating a licensed professional and wasn’t required to post bond given his lack of criminal history.

The woman said she came to his home on April 30.

On May 14, Mentouri was arrested on 17 criminal counts, including rape and sexual battery.

The latest reported victim’s case has not yet been presented to the grand jury, according to the Davidson County District Attorney’s office.

Chase Rudd, Mentouri’s attorney, argued his client’s bond should be reduced in order for him to receive better mental health treatment.

Rudd said Mentouri isn’t aware of what he’s doing.

“He’s still presumed innocent until proven guilty,” Rudd said. “He has Asperger’s, and he does think at times that he doesn’t know he is crossing the lines.

Prosecutors said the latest victim is yet another reason Mentouri’s bond should remain at $500,000.

“This defendant is a dangerous sexual predator,” Assistant District Attorney General Sarah Butler said.

The judge in the case said she would make her decision in the coming days.

Following the defense attorney’s claims of Mentouri’s Asperger’s diagnosis and how it prevents him from understanding his actions, News4 Investigates reached out to The Autism Society.

In an email to News4 Investigates, a spokeswoman wrote:

“People with developmental disabilities are not more likely to commit crimes, nor is their disability a defense when they do offend. In fact, people with disabilities are much more likely to be victims of violence and abuse than they are to be criminals. Legal arguments like this lead to further discrimination and violence directed at people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“People with autism or developmental disabilities may have difficulty understanding social cues and standards in a variety of instances, but that does not equate to being more violent nor having a greater likelihood of committing violent crimes.”

 
 
 

Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the chief investigator for News4 Investigates. His reporting has resulted in criminal convictions, legislative hearings before the U.S. Congress, and the payout of more than a million dollars to scam victims.

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