Things That Matter

A Lawsuit Filed Against Stan Lee Claims Sexual Misconduct Against A Massage Therapist Last Year

Comic book icon Stan Lee is not spending the last years of his life peacefully. The 95-year-old, who’s career as a comic-book writer, editor, film executive producer and publisher spans since the late 1930s, is facing a gamut of issues. Lee is dealing with fraud and financial issues, so much so that director Kevin Smith said Lee could come live with him. There’s family drama too. And matters are just getting worse.

A Latina masseuse who worked on Stan Lee during a comic con is suing him over claims of inappropriate sexual misconduct.

CREDIT: Twitter/@STARLORDSGF

Massage therapist Maria Carballo alleges that on the weekend of April 21-23, 2017, she performed two massage therapy sessions for Lee in his hotel room at a Hyatt Regency in Chicago.

According to court documents given to mitu: “During her first massage session, Lee began to fondle himself while lying face down; later, while Ms. Carballo was massaging his quadriceps, Lee began to moan and groan. Feeling uncomfortable, Ms. Carballo ended the massage early and left the hotel room.”

Carballo was then asked to return the following day to give Lee another massage. She alleges that he apologized to her, and she agreed to conduct the massage mostly out of fear of losing her job.

The suit alleges that one hour into the massage, “Lee, again, began moaning. In order to create distance from Lee, Ms. Carballo performed a Shiatsu massage, in which hands are replaced by feet. Within minutes, Lee took her foot and moved it against his genitals. Once Ms. Carballo freed herself from his grip, she promptly gathered her belongings and left.”

Carballo’s complaint contains five counts, including assault, battery, violation of the Illinois Gender Violence Act, emotional distress and civil conspiracy.

The suit also shows that records prove Lee was in Chicago that weekend as he was attending the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo at the McCormick Place convention center.

Carballo is also suing Lee’s assistant Mac Anderson, and is asking for more than $50,000.

“He is a high-profile public figure and I think it’s a shakedown,” Jonathan Freund, an attorney for Lee, told The Chicago Tribune, in response to the claim. “The guy is 95, I don’t think he would do that.”

Lee has been accused of similar actions before. Earlier this year, an unnamed source said that Lee had behaved sexually inappropriately.

“The report states a company that once provided Lee with professional nurses who gave him 24/7 home care terminated their business with Lee late last year, and that the parting of ways came after multiple nurses complained Lee allegedly propositioned them for sex, touched them inappropriately, and exposed himself to them,” Gizmodo reports.

Carballo says she didn’t come forward with her claims earlier because she was afraid.

“For a long time, I was afraid to ask anyone to help me hold Mr. Lee accountable for how he treated me,” Carbello said in a released statement. “He is rich and famous. I am not. After seeing other women fight to be treated with dignity and respect, I decided, me too. I am still nervous and afraid, but not as much as I was before because I have other people helping me.”

Carballo’s attorney, Alexandra Lopez of Cunningham Lopez LLP, also released the following statement: “Women all over the country, especially women in the hotel and service industry, have experienced the pain and embarrassment of being treated like chattel. Whether the men are powerful and influential like Stan Lee, Donald Trump or Bill Cosby, or just everyday businessmen, women deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Maria knows that she is in for the fight of her life, and we intend to battle with her every step of the way.”

The allegations against Lee dropped on the same day that he attended “Avengers: Infinity War” movie premiere.

Lee’s appearance at the red carpet premiere of “Avengers: Infinity War” caught fans’ attention. The comic legend attended the event in a motorized wheelchair on the same day sexual assault allegations went public.


READ: In Front Of Nearly 20,000 Fans At La Conque, Stan Lee Announced That He’s Developing A New Latino Superhero

Please leave a comment! Share this story with the world by tapping the SHARE button below!

A Jury Has Finally Been Selected For The Harvey Weinstein Rape Trial And Gigi Hadid Is Out

Entertainment

A Jury Has Finally Been Selected For The Harvey Weinstein Rape Trial And Gigi Hadid Is Out

@Current_Knewz / Twitter

After more than 100 women accused him of varying degrees of sexual assault, Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial is now underway. The jury selection process began almost two weeks ago in New York State Supreme Court, where a diverse pool of prospective jurors gathered, ready for the opportunity to participate in one of the most intense legal battles of the #MeToo movement. However, the process of selecting an impartial jury proved difficult—while 120 prospective jurors showed up that first day, many people admitted an inability to remain unbiased, which ultimately disqualified them from participating in the trial. This pattern continued the following day, when 47 of the additional 120 prospective jurors were dismissed for the same reason.

This past week, one of the people dismissed was supermodel Gigi Hadid. Hadid claimed that she could be fair and impartial if selected as a juror, but her involvement in the Hollywood social scene gave Judge James Burke pause.

Credit: Jim Haffrey / Associated Press

According to a pool reporter inside the Manhattan courtroom, Burke read a list of potential witnesses, asking the potential jurors to speak up if they knew anyone on the list. Hadid raised her hand and said, “I have met Salma Hayek.” She also affirmed that she had met Weinstein before.

“I think I’m still able to keep an open mind on the facts,” she said. But Burke was not convinced, and dismissed her from the selection pool.

Although Weinstein has been accused of harassing scores of women, the trial addresses just five charges from two accusers. The charges include predatory sexual assault, rape, and a criminal sexual act in the first degree. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison. Yet Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, and he maintains that all of the sexual encounters in question were consensual.

The trial is estimated to last until March, with two weeks of jury selection and eight weeks of arguments and testimony—all before actual deliberations are due to start.

Credit: Associated Press / Mark Lennihan

According to Weinstein’s attorney, Donna Rotunno, one of the major challenges with securing a jury was finding people who are able to commit to such an extensive trial. Weinstein’s defense team has also expressed concern with a perceived inability to locate impartial jurors in New York City—as a metropolitan area heavily tuned in to the media, Weinstein’s team feared that most prospective jurors have been following the case and forming opinions about Weinstein’s misconduct since it was first brought to light in 2017. According to CNN, Weinstein’s team made multiple attempts to move the trial to different cities in New York, where the likelihood of locating unbiased jurors might be higher.

On January 16, seven jurors—four men and three women—were seated. But that day, prosecutors accused Weinstein’s team of deliberately eliminating young white women from the pool of prospective jurors, as Weinstein’s lawyers had used half of their peremptory challenges to excuse prospective white women jurors who were not dismissed for bias or previously deemed unfit by prosecutors.

Why is this important, you may ask? Well, first of all, it’s illegal to use peremptory challenges to eliminate potential jurors on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity or religion.

Second of all, while lead prosecutor Joan Illuzi did not clarify why a lack of white women jurors would be problematic for the prosecution, legal experts said that the defense seemed to assume that jurors of this demographic were especially likely to sympathize with Weinstein’s accusers. So, the idea is that the defense tried to limit jurors of this kind in a strategic attempt to prevent even subconscious opposition to Weinstein during the trial.

Yet defense lawyers dismissed this accusation, citing specific reasons for rejecting each individual white woman and claiming that the remaining white female jurors’ responses to a questionnaire ultimately deemed them unfit to sit on the jury.

Rotunno said that the responses to the questionnaire that aimed to determine whether prospective jurors had experienced sexual assault (or knew someone who had) ultimately determined who would be a viable, unbiased candidate for jury selection, and that the defense’s resistance to seating certain individuals “had nothing to do with race or sex.” But due to the high number of women—regardless of race—who have experienced sexual violence, this stipulation largely diminished the number of women deemed fit for consideration at all. On the first day of jury selection alone, roughly 30% of the 120 prospective jurors stepped down for bias linked to personal experiences of sexual assault.

Ultimately, the final 12-person jury is comprised of six white men, one black man, two white women, and three black women. The alternate jurors, who will only serve if one of the first 12 jurors must withdraw, include a white man, a Latina woman and a black woman.

A Woman Is Suing American Airlines After An Employee Took Her Number From Her Luggage And Started To Text Her

Things That Matter

A Woman Is Suing American Airlines After An Employee Took Her Number From Her Luggage And Started To Text Her

@MattMargaras / Twitter

Airports can be strange places. But typically, when you’re in the airport of an unknown city, there’s a sense of freedom and solitude—after all, depending on where you are, the chance that you’ll cross paths with someone you know is pretty slim. But what’s the likelihood of running into someone you don’t know . . . but who somehow knows who you are? For Ashley Barno, this unlikely situation became a reality in June 2019, when an employee of American Airlines took her number from the tag on her luggage, then proceeded to text her incessantly throughout her flight.

The stranger sent a text that read, “Hey, Ashley! How are you??” before immediately following up with a “Btw I must tell you that you are gorgeous!” Barno thanked him for the compliment, asking him who he was and how he got her number. Also, why was he texting her?

He told her to “guess,” then added that he worked for American Airlines, the airline operating her flight from San Diego to Chicago. After telling her that he “just saw her again at the airport” and she was “looking very gorgeous in grey top [sic],” Barno started to feel nervous. She was wearing a gray shirt that day, and she did not like that this stranger was watching her—she said that the messages made her feel “naked in a public place.” She glanced around the gate area but had no idea who or where this person was.

Barno says that the messages continued even after she boarded her flight, when the man revealed that he was also on the plane.

Credit: Joe Samo

“You want to sit next to me?” said another text, promising that he could get her a better seat. “I have two seats open next to me!” he claimed. “Will you join me??”

Twice, he asked her for her seat number and told her that he wanted to “chat the whole flight.” He claimed that Barno herself had given him her number, and when she insisted otherwise, he eventually admitted, “Honestly I got it from ur bagtag.” Barno knew that the tag on her luggage also mentioned her full name and mailing address, which made the situation even more tense.

“Not ok!” she responded. “Not cool.” Then she told him to leave her alone.

What followed was a deluge of 10 more text messages, including one that read, “Friendship with me will be very beneficial for you!!”

He proceeded to promise her “good seats, access to the lounges and free flights too!! You can think about it!” he wrote, later adding, “Just looking for one chance to prove my self [sic]!! I will be very respectful to you always.” (As if sending a barrage of unwanted, creepy messages is respectful behavior.)

After this deeply disturbing experience, Barno hired attorney Joseph Samo and filed a lawsuit against the airline and former employee (who, at the time of the incident, was still employed by American Airlines) over allegations of negligent hiring, sexual harassment and stalking.

Samo said that during the flight, Barno was emotionally distraught, and she notified a flight attendant about what was going on, mentioning that she was receiving unsettling messages from a man in row 15. According to Samo, the flight attendant responded kindly, ensuring that Barno was in a completely different area of the plane and checking in with Barno regularly. When the airplane landed, security guards escorted the man off the plane—the flight attendant told Barno that “this wasn’t the first time he’d done something like this.”

While American Airlines did not answer specific questions about Barno’s allegations or the case, company spokesman Joshua Freed confirmed that the man was employed by American Airlines at the time, though he wasn’t on duty during the alleged harassment. He wrote in a statement that “the employee involved in the complaint is no longer employed at American Airlines,” and that “American Airlines takes the privacy and safety of our customers seriously.” He added, “We investigated the allegations and took appropriate action.”

But Barno’s complaint contests this claim. Although Freed declined to comment on past allegations against the former employee due to the impending litigation, the lawsuit claims that American Airlines “knew of its employee’s propensity to inappropriately contact its customers yet continued to retain him as an employee.”

The complaint, filed last week in a San Diego division of California Superior Court, also states that “American Airlines did not do a sufficient job in hiring and supervising employees to keep its customers safe from sexual harassment and stalking.”

Barno affirmed that she felt frustrated and neglected by the airline when they failed to respond to her concerns about customer privacy after the incident. In an interview with NBC 7 in San Diego, Barno described her fear when she realized they were on the same flight: “Just knowing that he knew what I looked like, and that we were on an enclosed plane and that there’s no way out, like really, really scared me.”

Samo validated Barno’s feas, reiterating the need for action on the part of the airline. “We’re doing this to send a message to big corporations that this behavior is not acceptable,” Samo said. “They have to train their employees better and take better precautions to make sure these things don’t happen again.”