OMNI LOUISVILLE LAWSUITS CLAIM WOMEN WERE INAPPROPIATELY TOUCHED
September 29, 2019
Seven women have now filed separate lawsuits against Omni Hotels Management Corp. and a former employee at its Louisville hotel, accusing him of inappropriately touching them during massages.
Each lawsuit alleges that the employee, Colin Stephenson, touched the women without their consent during massages that took place over the past year.
According to court documents, Stephenson was previously sued in 2016 for similar inappropriate actions and fired from Massage Envy J-Town as a result. The lawsuit alleges that Omni either knew or should have known about previous accusations made against Stephenson.
In the first lawsuit, which was filed on Aug. 16, a woman claims Stephenson touched her genitals several times during a massage in June without her consent.
The latest lawsuit, filed on Sept. 27, alleges that Stephenson placed his hands on a woman's genitals without her consent during a massage on Aug. 16, the same day the first suit was filed against him. The woman was "frozen in shock by this physical and emotional violation," the suit states.
The earliest incident mentioned in the seven lawsuits took place in August 2018. Each woman told the Omni that they had been assaulted after their massages, but the Omni didn't punish Stephenson until the final complaint in June, according to Casey Krill, the attorney representing the each of the four women.
In a lawsuit filed on Aug. 26, one woman claims that after she was allegedly assaulted by Stephenson in an August 2018 massage, he was scheduled to be her masseuse a second time in a February massage.
"I think the Omni is just refusing to accept responsibility," Krill told The Courier Journal. "They enabled a sexual predator from the day they hired him, and they allowed him to continue what he was doing for nearly a year."
“We are concerned by the allegations about a former Omni employee, and we are conducting an internal investigation," Kristen Cadenhead, an Omni spokeswoman, said in an email. "Every job applicant at Omni who may have direct contact with guests is vetted by criminal background check before hiring, and each hire must complete thorough training. We are committed to the safety and security of all our guests."
Krill said that one of his clients who received a massage in June filed a report with Louisville Metro Police and that the department is currently investigating Stephenson. LMPD did not immediately respond to a phone call from The Courier Journal to confirm or to comment on the matter.
Stephenson has been fired by the Omni, according to court documents. Online court records do not show if Stephenson has been criminally charged.
Several of the lawsuits also allege that Omni should have had a duty to prevent this incident from occurring by "enacting proper hiring, training and supervision procedures."
All seven women are suing for compensatory and punitive damages as well as other expended costs.
A hearing during the first week of October could include a decision on whether the lawsuits will be consolidated.
Stephenson is listed as having an active license to practice massage therapy and as not receiving any disciplinary actions on a database for the Kentucky Board of Licensure for Massage Therapy.
"The Kentucky Board of Licensure for Massage Therapists reviews all submitted complaints, and does not have a record of an open investigation regarding Mr. Colin J. Stephenson," the board said in a statement. "The Board did receive a complaint in 2016 against Mr. Stephenson, which was settled in 2017".
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