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Woman sues masseur, Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn alleging sexual assault

A former guest at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa is suing the high-end Sonoma Valley resort in a civil court along with an employee she claims sexually assaulted her during a December 2017 massage.

The guest is a 50-year-old Alameda County resident identified only as Jane Doe in the civil lawsuit filed Tuesday in Sonoma County Superior Court accusing the companies that manage the hotel of negligence because their managers dismissed her allegation and failed to supervise staff, among other claims.

The masseur is identified in the suit as Daniel Cortright, a Sebastopol-based massage therapist and Reiki master, according to his website. Reached by phone, Cortright said he wasn't aware of the lawsuit and declined to speak with a reporter about the allegations.

Michelle Heston, a spokeswoman with the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, also declined to address the allegations with a reporter because she said “this matter is currently under legal review.”

The woman has accused Cortright of sexual battery during the Dec. 2, 2017 massage appointment at the inn, according to the 13-page complaint. While Cortright was massaging her legs, the woman felt his “hand creep up her inner leg and brush against her labia,” according to the complaint. She froze, and moments later she “felt Cortright's hand rub against her labia and inside her vagina a second time” and then he made a comment about her body and a gesture she felt confirmed his action was intentional, according to the suit.

She got up and told Cortright she didn't feel well and left the room, found her husband and told him what had just occurred, according to the suit. Her husband reported the incident to a hotel manager, identified as Kacey O'Rourke, who responded by sending the couple a complimentary bottle of wine, the court filing said.

The woman reported the assault to the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office and was interviewed by deputies. Cortright told deputies his hand accidentally slipped and the comment he made was in reference to sweat on her leg, according to the woman's attorney, Micha Liberty, who read from a copy of the sheriff's report on the incident.

Liberty said the woman decided to sue Cortright and the hotel because she felt traumatized by the incident and was upset by “the cavalier and dismissive way” hotel managers and staff handled a report of abuse of a guest by staff.

“Any suggestion that this assault occurred by accident or was unintentional doesn't pass the blush test here,” Liberty said.

Sonoma County Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Spencer Crum said patrol deputies investigated the woman's report in December 2017 but never sent the case to the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office. Crum said that sexual assault detectives would take another look at the case to determine if there was evidence of a crime.

The woman is seeking unspecified damages from two companies associated with the management of the hotel.

The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa is owned by AccorHotels, an international hotel firm with a portfolio of 4,500 hotels in 100 countries.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 707-521-5220 or julie.johnson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @jjpressdem.

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