Suit: Massage Turned Into Sexual Assault at Spa Inside Loews Hotel
UPDATE: Jerome Williams had been arrested and fired by Main Line spa Hand & Stone for allegedly grabbing a customer’s genitals. Also, a third alleged victim contacted police this week, and new details of Jerome McNeill’s 2007 arrest on child rape and sexual assault charges have emerged. Read the complete story here.
A Texas woman has filed a federal lawsuit against Philadelphia’s Loews Hotel and the owners of 12th Street Gym, alleging that she was sexually assaulted during a massage inside the Center City hotel’s 12Fit Spa, which is operated by the gym.
The woman, a 52-year-old Aramark employee, was visiting Philadelphia last October for an annual Aramark meeting. On October 14th, she checked into the Loews Hotel at 1200 Market Street, just across the street from Aramark headquarters. When she got to her room, she noticed an advertisement for the fifth-floor spa 12Fit, which 12th Street Gym opened inside the hotel at the beginning of 2014, and she booked a massage appointment for October 16th, just before an Aramark dinner where she was to be honored.
Once inside the spa, she met her masseur, a then-25-year-old Port Richmond man named Jerome McNeill. According to the lawsuit, once she disrobed and lay face down on the massage table, McNeill “applied copious amounts of lotion to” her body and “intentionally sexually assaulted” her by “inserting his fingers into her vagina and anus on multiple occasions.” She says that when she tried to resist, McNeill “forced her legs up and held them down, and continued to sexually assault her.” Eventually, she was able to break free, and McNeill offered to help her get dressed, and he allegedly attempted to “place his hands around her neck.”
The woman immediately went to the hotel’s front desk and demanded to speak to management in a private location. According to the suit, a front desk agent “acted with callous disregard” and told her that no one was available to speak with her and suggested that she go to the dinner and speak with someone after. She says she was “in shock and not wanting to cause a scene,” and so she complied.
When she returned, she says she was once again told that senior management was unavailable to speak with her and that the hotel began distancing itself by insisting that McNeill wasn’t an employee of the hotel.
The next day, McNeill was arrested and charged with aggravated indecent assault and sexual assault, among other charges. Bail was originally set at $150,000, then increased in December to $300,000, and then decreased to $100,000 in April of this year. McNeill is still behind bars.
And it turns out that this wasn’t McNeill’s first arrest. When he was arrested for the alleged Loews assault, he was already awaiting trial for indecent assault in Lower Merion. In 2013, he pleaded guilty to attempting to flee police after a Bucks County traffic stop and was sentenced to probation and community service. In 2011, he was caught driving with a suspended license. And in 2007, he was charged with a bevy of crimes including rape, sexual assault, indecent exposure, unlawful sexual contact with a minor, false imprisonment, and indecent assault of a minor — more than 50 counts in all. All of the charges were later withdrawn after a prosecution witness failed to appear in court multiple times.
The lawsuit names McNeill for the assault and Loews and 12Fit for negligence for having a person with his background “in a position that necessitated physical interaction with nude or nearly-nude hotel patrons.” She is seeking unspecified damages. Loews does not comment on pending litigation, and a spokesperson for 12Fit told us that the owner is unavailable for comment.
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