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Spa sued over alleged rape attempt

Massage Envy owners accused of failing to assist customer who claimed a male employee assaulted her. The employee no longer works at the clinic.

By Joanna Clay, joanna.clay@latimes.com

7:39 PM EDT, June 16, 2011

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The victim in an alleged attempted rape at a Laguna Beach massage clinic has filed a civil suit against its owners and therapist accused of attacking her.

The civil case names Mark Peregil Valenzon, the accused therapist, and Massage Envy owners John and Barbara Meeks.

The alleged victim went to the parlor Mother's Day, May 8. Her legal filing stated that the massage started out fine.

"But then, in the middle of the massage, Plaintiff heard heavy breathing and the sound of clanking metal coming from Valenzon's belt," the complaint reads. "Valenzon then made a forceful movement with his hands and pulled Plaintiff's underwear down to her knees."

The complaint describes how the victim propped herself up and allegedly saw Valenzon with his pants down and his hands near his genitals as he was preparing to get on top of her.

She claims she screamed in hopes of getting the attention of staff. She says she then ran out of the room to the front desk, where she told staff what occurred.

The complaint asserts that she was ignored by staff and called the police herself once outside the building.

Valenzon, 33, of Lake Forest, was arrested on suspicion of attempted rape after an interview with police.

The complaint was filed for intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, violation of right to privacy, assault and battery, negligence, negligence per se, and negligent hiring, supervision or retention.

Since allegedly being assaulted, the complaint reads, the plaintiff has a fear of being alone, she cannot perform at work or school and has difficulty performing normal tasks.

The victim's attorney, Scott J. Ferrell of Newport Trial Group, asserted Valenzon had a criminal past and severe mental issues in a statement to the Coastline Pilot.

"Massage Envy advertises itself as a safe place for women to relax and enjoy non-sexual massages. Instead, their employee tried to rape my client on Mother's Day, and then the manager refused to call 911," Ferrell said in the statement. "What kind of company hires a criminal with a history of violent schizophrenia to massage young women in dark rooms and then ignores frantic pleas for help?"

Regarding a criminal case, Farrah Emami, spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney's office, said, the office is reviewing and has not made a filing decision.

In a statement provided to the Coastline Pilot by Massage Envy's corporate parent company in Scottsdale, Ariz., a spokeswoman said, "The clinic is fully cooperating with the investigation being conducted by the Laguna Beach Police Department and is taking the appropriate steps in conjunction with the police department. The therapist is no longer employed by the clinic."