VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Three law firms have filed lawsuits on behalf of four women who were sexually assaulted at a Williamsburg massage salon in 2020.
Chaz Roca, known as C.R. in the complaint, is one of the four women now suing the Massage Luxe corporation and its Williamsburg location on Monticello Avenue.
“Whoever is involved, put me under the hand of him, and this is something I will never forget,” Roca said. “It’s traumatizing.”
In July 2021, former massage therapist at Williamsburg Massage Luxe, Shawn Robinson, was sentenced to 37 years in prison for sexually assaulting women at the massage salon. The judge suspended an additional 99 years of Robinson's prison sentence.
He'd been previously convicted of a 2018 sexual battery on a woman at a Massage Envy in Chesterfield County. Robinson was found guilty in July 2020 of misdemeanor sexual battery for raping a woman in February 2018 at the Massage Envy.
Despite the conviction, Robinson was able to keep his license and get hired at Williamsburg Massage Luxe, where five other women were assaulted.
Now, four women, represented by the law firms of Breit Biniazan, Marks and Harrison, andChristina Pendleton & Associates, have filed civil suits on Wednesday against the company and its local franchisee. They are seeking more than $100 million in damages.
Stew Ryan is among a group of lawyers representing the women.
“Each one of the survivors that is advancing the different lawsuits that were filed here today has undergone a deeply traumatic and unfortunately life-altering incident at the hands of the same massage therapist and at the hands of a person that never should have been allowed to be in the same room as any one of them,” said Ryan who represents C.R. in the civil suit.
The lawsuit states that before hiring Robinson, Williamsburg Massage Luxe should have known about Robinson's previous charges and allegations.
The lawyers argue the crimes could have been avoided with a simple background check.
“Unfortunately, as a result of the failed policies or procedures, whether it relates to hiring, screening, or otherwise, each and every one of the brave individuals that came forward today with these lawsuits, suffered a traumatic and unfortunately unnecessary sexual assault that could have easily been prevented,” Ryan said.
The first plaintiff, C.R., claims that on December 1, 2020, she was sexually assaulted by Robinson. She did not know that was considered inappropriate and returned two weeks later to have Robinson again. She says she was assaulted again and then reported the incident to the other employees and law enforcement.
Another woman, Dawn Broker, also filed a lawsuit in which it states that on October 27, 2020, she visited the Williamsburg location and Robinson was her massage therapist. She says she was assaulted, however, left without informing employees. Once she saw that he was arrested she reported the assault to police.
Monica Clayton has also filed a suit against the company after she says she was assaulted by Robinson on December 5, 2020 at the Williamsburg location. According to the suit, she went to authorities after gaining courage upon seeing his arrest.
A woman named 'Jane Doe' in the final lawsuit, stated she went to the Williamsburg location on October 6, 2020 and was also sexually assaulted by massage therapist Shawn Robinson. She states that the massage went over the scheduled time, however, she believed it was due to accidental penetration. She returned to salon on October 28 and Robinson was her therapist again. 'Jane Doe' says during this time Robinson attempted to take off her shorts twice and she ended the massage. She did not inform staff before leaving. She contacted police after learning of his arrest in December.
In October 2020, the Virginia Board of Nursing, which oversees the massage industry, suspended Robinson’s license to practice. Robinson was still an employee of Williamsburg Massage Luxe until December 5, 2020.
“This was entirely preventable, yes,” Roca said. “That’s the saddest part is, this didn’t need to happen to me; I didn’t need this.”
Each eight-count suit against Massage Luxe International and Massage Luxe Williamsburg LLC alleges that the defendants permitted assault and battery, grossly negligent and reckless hiring and retention, a “wanton breach of duty,” numerous violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act and “civil conspiracy to commit fraud”.
In the suit, the plaintiffs claim they suffered bodily injuries, mental anguish, humiliation and embarrassment and lost earning capacity. Each suit asks for $25-million in compensatory and $350,000 in punitive damages.
“Massage Luxe’s hiring and retention of Robinson is unconscionable,” says attorney Kevin Biniazan on behalf of the other lawyers in the four cases. “That they continued to allow and assign Robinson to conduct massages on unsuspecting clients without warning is beyond the pale, and the lawsuits are meant to send a message to this industry that this type of horrible practice, which we understand occurs nationwide. It needs to stop immediately.”
News 3 reached out to Massage Luxe for a response to the lawsuit and didn’t hear back.
In the past, the company told our sister station WTVR in Richmond they did do a background check on Robinson and it came back clean.
To read each lawsuit filed, click the following links below. Warning: Each document contains graphic details of the events that occurred.