An anonymous Pennsylvania tourist is seeking more than $5 million in damages from the Sanctuary South Beach, claiming a massage therapist stripped her, groped her and then masturbated in the corner of the hotel’s spa.
“After some time [the masseur] returned to the massage table, instructed Jane Doe to get dressed, kissed her forehead and told her that he loved her,” said a suit filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court by the unidentified woman’s attorney, Jeffrey Herman of Herman, Mermelstein & Horowitz in Boca Raton.
The negligence complaint alleges the woman was at the Sanctuary with her husband last Presidents Day weekend and bought a facial and massage package from Internet deal purveyor Groupon.
“She reported it to the police the same day,” Herman said, adding he did not know of any criminal charges being filed. “Unfortunately in these cases, it’s he said, she said.”
The woman, then 33 years old, alleged the therapist in blue scrubs “began massaging her inappropriately approximately 10 minutes into the 60-minute massage,” said a report by Miami Beach police officer Daniel Han. The masseur “kept massaging her buttocks and area near the anus more than other parts of her lower body,” the woman told the officer.
Named as defendants are Sanctuary Hotel Group Inc.; Sanctuary South Beach Inc.; Sanctuary Spa LLC; Yulia Limberis-Betancourt, who the complaint said operates and manages the spa; Senga Chaii LLC, which registered the business name Sanctuary Spa Salon; and hotel and spa manager Menin Hotels Inc. The masseur was not sued.
The hotel’s attorney, Michael J. Schwartz of Schwartz & Kirschbaum in Miami, did not return a call for comment by deadline. The court granted the hotel an extension until Monday to respond to the complaint.
When the Sanctuary at 1745 James Ave. in Miami Beach opened in 2005, it promoted itself as South Beach’s first “female-friendly” hotel — offering discounts for single women, cabana boys to apply suntan lotion, and jogging and yoga companions.
The latest Groupon deal for the Sanctuary, which ended in early December, offered a 60-minute hot-stone or deep-tissue massage and a customized facial for $129 instead of the normal $300.
Herman said the lawsuit filed Dec. 6 might serve as a warning to those who received gift certificates to spas over the holidays.
“Women are in very vulnerable positions when they go into these massage rooms,” he said.