Oregon House candidate sues Woodburn massage parlor for inappropriate sexual touching
A Democratic candidate for the Oregon House of Representatives is suing massage parlor owner Woodburn after he says she tried to make sexual contact with him.
In a lawsuit filed Thursday in Marion County Circuit Court, Anthony Medina claims that Fuxiu Zhen, the owner of Woodburn Spa, caused him “emotional injury and mental anguish, trauma, inability to form close relationships, nightmares” and other negative effects in the incident.
Medina seeks damages of $450,000. He is also asking a court to stop Zhen from operating salons in Woodburn, Portland and Eugene that have been registered with the state under his name.
“They operate with impunity,” Sean Riddell, the Portland attorney representing Medina, said Thursday. “My client’s desire is to close these businesses.”
As the OPB reported, Medina was one of two Woodburn officials who turned himself in to police in February, after he said he visited the Woodburn Spa for a massage in separate cases and was surprised when an employee initiated sexual contact.
Medina, chair of the Woodburn School Board, is currently the Democratic candidate for House District 22, a safe Democratic neighborhood that stretches from Woodburn to Salem.
The other official who has reported sexual contact is Woodburn Mayor Eric Swenson, who won the Democratic nomination for a Woodburn state Senate seat in May but resigned shortly after the primary election. Swenson denied that the massage parlor incident played a prominent role in that decision, saying he was seeking another term as mayor instead.
Medina’s lawsuit echoes his statement to the police. He said he suffered from chronic back pain and received monthly massages as treatment. Medina said she learned in February that her chiropractor had been booked for weeks. So he went to the 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 this way,” the lawsuit states. “The masseuse then briefly massaged the plaintiff’s feet for 10 seconds and then ended the massage at around 20 minutes during which Medina [promptly] left.”
Medina reported the incident to the police the same day, after speaking with his wife. He said the experience renewed the trauma of a past sexual assault.
“It can be difficult to talk about it, but we all have a responsibility to take action, whether you are a victim or are aware of the possibility of human trafficking and exploitation occurring in our community,” Medina said in a statement last month. after an investigation into his complaint was published.
Unlike 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 about the experience he had had. Swenson told an interviewer he engaged in several minutes of “mutual trial and error” before deciding he should leave the company.
Following reports, records show that police arrested two women, including Zhen, at the spa for performing massage without a state license. The women were both from China and had recently moved to Oregon from California. Police reports suggest that at least one of the women also lived in the spa.
Without describing direct evidence, Medina’s lawsuit alleges that the massage parlor is part of a criminal enterprise involving human trafficking, coercion, prostitution and other crimes that could be considered racketeering. In addition to seeking nearly half a million dollars, the suit asks a judge to dissolve Woodburn Spa and two affiliated businesses and bar Zhen from running salons in the state.
Few allegations appear to have been made against Woodburn Spa police and state licensing officials have not shut down the business, despite Zhen not having the proper credentials for the to exploit. Although Zhen dissolved the salon’s registration with the state, it remained open late last month, according to the Statesman Journal.