Loews Masseur Had Been Arrested, Fired by Main Line Spa for Allegedly Grabbing Customer’s Genitals
On Tuesday, we told you about Jerome McNeill, the 26-year-old Port Richmond massage therapist who is charged with sexually assaulting a woman inside the spa at the Loews Hotel last October. And now we’ve learned that the Loews incident wasn’t the first time that McNeill was accused of assaulting a client during a massage.
In July 2014, McNeill was working as a massage therapist at Hand & Stone, the popular massage franchise in Haverford. According to a criminal complaint, McNeill was massaging a man inside the spa when he allegedly “reached inside the victim’s underwear through the leg opening and took hold of his penis.”
The man told police that McNeill complied when he told him to stop and that McNeill tried to apologize, saying, “Sorry for any misunderstandings.” McNeill was arrested and charged with indecent assault, and he’s scheduled for trial at the end of this month.
We’ve also unearthed new details on McNeill’s 2007 arrest. In 2007, McNeill was charged with raping a 12-year-old girl — charges that were later withdrawn after a key prosecution witness failed to appear in court six times. According to the affidavit of probable cause in that arrest, McNeill, who was 18 at the time, was alleged to have penetrated the girl’s vagina with his penis on three occasions, after she told him not to.
After Tuesday’s story about the alleged assault inside the Loews spa, a woman contacted us and claimed that McNeill “inappropriately touched” her during a massage at the Haverford Hand & Stone last year. After coming forward to Philadelphia magazine, she says she contacted the Lower Merion Police Department and filed a complaint on Wednesday, naming McNeill. Police confirm that a new accuser did come forward this week, but according to Lieutenant Christopher Polo, commander of the investigations unit for Lower Merion, the department cannot comment on the matter because “an investigation is ongoing.”
“I know nothing about that incident,” says Dana Kline, owner of the Hand & Stone location. Kline tells us that McNeill was fired immediately after the indecent assault arrest and insists that Hand & Stone did conduct a criminal background check before hiring him. She also points out that the state gave him a massage license in spite of his 2007 arrest, an arrest she says she was unaware of until now.
McNeill’s state massage license was issued in April 2014, two months after he asked a judge to expunge the 2007 rape arrest. (The judge said no.) His license expired in January 2015, and there has been no disciplinary action against him by the Pennsylvania State Board of Massage Therapy. According to the Pennsylvania Department of State, which oversees professional licensure, a felony conviction would preclude a candidate from obtaining a massage license; McNeill has never been convicted of a felony. (The state also requires that the applicant be of “good moral character.”)
In the Loews case, a 52-year-old Aramark employee from Houston, Texas, accused McNeill of sexually assaulting her inside the hotel’s spa by inserting his fingers into her vagina and anus and of holding her down when she tried to resist. He is currently sitting in the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in lieu of $100,000 bail for that arrest.
Katie Colgan, the Montgomery County assistant district attorney handling the July 2014 Hand & Stone case, says she plans to introduce evidence about the Loews allegations at the trial later this month. “It’s the same opportunity and the same type of relationship between him and the victims,” she explains. “They were both clients and he was their massage therapist.” Colgan says that she hasn’t yet received any paperwork from Lower Merion about the new allegations against McNeill by the other woman.
Citing pending litigation, a spokesperson for 12th Street Gym, which operates the spa inside the Loews, declined to tell us when McNeill began working at the spa and whether the spa did any kind of background check on him prior to his employment there. A representative of the Loews told us that the hotel does not comment on pending litigation; the accuser in the suit had named the hotel and the spa.
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