A Democratic candidate for the Oregon House of Representatives is suing the owner of a Woodburn massage parlor after he says she tried to initiate sexual contact with him.
In a suit filed in Marion County Circuit Court on Thursday, Anthony Medina claims Fuxiu Zhen, the owner of Woodburn Spa, caused him “emotional injury and mental anguish, trauma, an inability to form close relationships, nightmares” and other negative effects in the incident.
Medina is requesting damages of $450,000. He’s also asking a court to block Zhen from operating parlors in Woodburn, Portland and Eugene that were registered with the state under her name.
“They’re operating with impunity,” Sean Riddell, the Portland attorney representing Medina, said on Thursday. “My client’s desire is to shut down these businesses.”
As OPB has reported, Medina is one of two Woodburn public officials who went to police in February, after they said they visited The Woodburn Spa for a massage in separate instances and were surprised when an employee initiated sexual contact.
Medina, the chair of the Woodburn School Board, is currently the Democratic nominee for House District 22, a safely Democratic district that stretches from Woodburn to Salem.
The other public official who reported sexual contact is Woodburn Mayor Eric Swenson, who won the Democratic nomination for a Woodburn state Senate seat in May but stepped down soon after the primary election. Swenson has denied the massage parlor incident had a leading role in that decision, saying he is seeking another term as mayor instead.
Medina’s lawsuit echoes his statement to police. He said he has chronic back pain and receives monthly massages as treatment. Medina said he learned in February that his chiropractor was booked out for weeks so he went to Woodburn Spa, which had recently opened near his home.
Medina said he became alarmed when Zhen pulled down his underwear and grabbed his genitals during the massage.
“Plaintiff immediately told the masseuse that he did not want to be touched in that manner,” the suit says. “The masseuse then briefly massaged Plaintiff’s feet for 10 seconds and then terminated the massage at roughly 20 minutes at which Medina [promptly] left.”
Medina reported the incident to police the same day, after speaking with his wife. He has said the experience renewed trauma from a past sexual assault.
“These can be difficult things to talk about, but we all have a responsibility to act, whether you are a victim or are aware of any possibility that human trafficking and exploitation might be happening in our community,” Medina said in a statement last month after an investigation into his complaint was released.
In contrast to Medina, Swenson did not immediately report a January incident at the massage parlor to police. He only did so in February, after Medina told him of the experience he’d had. Swenson told an investigator that he engaged in several minutes of “mutual groping” before deciding he needed to leave the business.
Following the reports, records show police arrested two women, including Zhen, at the spa for practicing massage without a state license. The women were both natives of China who had recently moved to Oregon from California. Police reports suggest at least one of the women was also living in the spa.
Without describing direct evidence, Medina’s lawsuit alleges the massage parlor is part of a criminal enterprise that involves human trafficking, coercion, prostitution and other crimes that can be considered racketeering. Apart from seeking nearly a half-million dollars, the suit asks a judge to dissolve the Woodburn Spa and two affiliated businesses and to prevent Zhen from running any parlors in the state.
Little appears to have come of allegations against Woodburn Spa Police and state licensing officials did not shut down the business, despite the fact Zhen did not have the appropriate credentials to operate it. While Zhen has dissolved the parlor’s registration with the state, it remained open late last month, according to the Statesman Journal.