Stan Lee Has Been Sued For Alleged Sexual Misconduct During A Massage
Just days before Avengers: Infinity War hits theaters, former Marvel comics head Stan Lee has been sued over allegations of sexual misconduct, according to TMZ. The publication reports that Chicago massage therapist Maria Carballo is suing Lee and his former assistant Max Anderson after she claims he touched himself and allegedly tried to use her foot for sexual pleasure while she was massaging him. (Bustle reached out to a rep for Lee for comment, but did not receive a response at the time of publication. The Cook County, Illinois Circuit Court confirmed to Bustle that the lawsuit was filed.)
In court documents reportedly attained by the site, Carballo claimed that these massages took place two days in a row when she came to provide massages to Lee in his hotel room a year ago. She said she left after Lee allegedly began touching himself while on the table during the first visit, and when she came back for the second visit, he allegedly did it again. As Carballo claimed in the suit, she then threatened to leave, but stayed because Lee allegedly got angry. She then alleges he grabbed her foot during a Shiatsu massage and rubbed it against his genitals. Carballo claimed she then immediately left.
Now, Carballo is suing for over $50,000 in damages. Although Lee hasn't yet shared a statement in his own words, his business partner, Keya Morgan, denied Carballo's claims to TMZ and brought up Lee's assistant at the time, Anderson, who's also listed as a defendant in the suit.
"I have no idea what the convict Max Anderson did, but Stan Lee is 95 years old, completely harmless, and is 100 percent innocent, and denies any such false accusations," Morgan told the site. (According to the Daily Mail, Anderson is a convicted felon; Anderson could not be reached for comment.)
Carballo also claimed that when she left the second massage appointment, she was paid $240 for her services, and that Lee's assistant allegedly tried to give her a tip by handing her "a wad of money" when she was on her way out, which she claims could have been because he was aware of the misconduct that allegedly happened during the visit.
People shared more details of the lawsuit, including that the incident allegedly took place in April 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The magazine reported that the owner of the company Carballo worked for allegedly told her that "appeasing VIP clients" was important and shared an apology from Lee, which lead her to go back for the second appointment. When she arrived at the hotel the next day, Carballo claimed that four security guards, the Hyatt's concierge, and members of Lee's team all met her to apologize again for Lee's behavior the day before. (A Hyatt company spokesperson released the following statement to Bustle: "At Hyatt, it is our top priority to provide a safe, secure environment for all guests and colleagues. We do not comment on guests’ legal matters, and we can confirm that the massage therapist named in this lawsuit was not a Hyatt employee at any time.")
According to the Chicago Tribune, Carballo's attorney, Alexandra Reed-Lopez, confirmed that she did file a police report on March 16, and police have said that an investigation is ongoing. Reed-Lopez confirmed to Bustle that Carballo has sued Lee, and in a statement said, "Ms. Carballo’s complaint contains five counts, including assault, battery, violation of the Illinois Gender Violence Act, emotional distress and civil conspiracy."
Gender Violence Act, emotional distress and civil conspiracy.
One of Lee's lawyers, Jonathan Freund, told the Tribune that Lee was shocked by Carballo's claims and that they are unaware of a criminal investigation. “He is a high-profile public figure and I think it’s a shakedown,” Freund said. “The guy is 95, I don’t think he would do that.” He also added that Lee plans to "defend his rights vigorously." (Bustle reached out to Freund for additional comment, but did not receive a response at the time of publication.)
People also added that Carballo said in the suit that she was inspired to come forward because of the #MeToo movement so she could "fight for her dignity by standing up for herself,” although she claimed that initially she feared reporting the alleged incident to police could "hurt her job" because of Lee's wealth and influence.
Lee is only the latest in a string of Hollywood men who have been accused of sexual assault and misconduct over the last year. If Carballo wins her suit, she's asking for a judgment "in excess of $50,000, plus an award of punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs as permitted under the statute," according to People.