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.
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 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. He unlocked it for me and I got out,” she said.
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 30th.
On May 14, Mentouri was then 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 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 Aspergers, and he does thinks at times that he doesn't know are crossing the lines.”
Prosecutors said this latest victim is yet another reason Mentouri’s bond should remain at $500,000.
“This defendant is a dangerous sexual predator,” said Sarah Butler, assistant district attorney general.
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 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.
The email went on to read, “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.”