Lawsuit: Calistoga Solage spa client claims she was sexually assaulted during massage

WARNING: This article contains graphic content and may affect those who have experienced​ ​​​sexual assault.

Melanie Woodrow Image
Wednesday, December 20, 2023
Bay Area woman claims in lawsuit she was sexually assaulted at spa
A Bay Area resort and spa is facing a lawsuit after a client says she was sexually assaulted during a massage.

CALISTOGA, Calif. (KGO) -- A Calistoga resort and spa is facing a lawsuit after a client says she was sexually assaulted during a massage.

Despite prior sexual harassment allegations by several employees about the accused massage therapist's treatment of them at work and a settlement with no admission of wrongdoing, he remained employed by Solage in Calistoga until the client's allegations.

The Calistoga police department tells ABC7 I-Team reporter Melanie Woodrow there's an open investigation.

WARNING: This article contains graphic content and may affect those who have experienced sexual assault.

The spa client believes this sexual assault could have been prevented and wants to know why the massage therapist wasn't fired sooner.

Alisha Eastwood and her family were regulars at Solage, part of the Auberge Resorts Collection in Calistoga.

"It was always a place that was very safe prior to this incident," said Eastwood.

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According to her lawsuit, in September, while staying at Solage, Eastwood says massage therapist Eliot Ferrer, seen here in a deposition for a prior sexual harassment in the workplace lawsuit, sexually assaulted her during a massage.

"It was unreal, I couldn't believe it, I couldn't believe what was happening," said Eastwood.

As detailed in her lawsuit -

"As he was massaging my back I felt like his hands were going too far down onto my bottom," said Eastwood.

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"When he was stretching me, the top part of my body was exposed and he took my right arm and pulled it back and pulled my shoulder which was face down onto the table up off the table so that my right breast was exposed," said Eastwood.

Once she turned over, Eastwood says the massage became more uncomfortable.

"To the point of later going to the police," said Eastwood.

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In her lawsuit, Eastwood details how Ferrer allegedly touched her.

"And at the very end of working on the right side of my body he put his hand on top of my breast including my nipple and held it there for a few seconds and then walked around and completed the massage in the same way on the other side of my body," said Eastwood.

According to her complaint, outside the room, she says Ferrer repeatedly offered her his phone number so that he could work on her at her home.

When she refused --

"He demanded my phone number," said Eastwood.

Eastwood says she told him she was uncomfortable with that and went into the women's locker room.

"It was my body, but I didn't want to be in it," said Eastwood.

She says she reported the incident to a spa manager who allegedly said she wouldn't have to pay for the massage. She also says she spoke with a resort manager at the front desk.

"They never asked if I was okay, they never asked if I wanted to file a report, if I wanted to speak to the police," said Eastwood.

She left the resort a day early and filed a police report with Calistoga Police Department and filed a civil lawsuit against Solage, Auberge Resorts and Eliot Ferrer on November 20.

By email, a police spokesperson tells the I-Team, the case is currently an open investigation, writing, "Once our investigation is complete the case will be forwarded to the Napa County District Attorney's Office, if appropriate."

In a letter Auberge Resorts Area Vice President sent Eastwood, he writes, "We have been fully cooperating with the police and their investigation..."

He also writes that after Eastwood's allegations Ferrer was taken off the schedule and is now no longer working at Solage. Also that Eastwood's stay at Solage had been fully refunded.

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In a second letter he sent to Eastwood he wrote that Ferrer denied all the allegations but that they did not find his denials credible and found her allegations credible. Also that they planned to implement some of her suggestions around crisis response training.

Eastwood later learned she wasn't the first to report Ferrer to Solage.

In April, four former employees settled a lawsuit with Solage with no admission of wrongdoing accusing Ferrer of sexual harassment in the workplace including allegedly speaking to them in a sexual manner, stalking them, giving them gifts and unwelcomed hugs and getting angry when his advances were rebuffed.

Leila Muller was one of the four former Solage employees claims Ferrer sexually harassed her.

"I think it gradually just got more uncomfortable for me," said Muller.

"When he would go to hug me and I would pull away or be uncomfortable he would get visibly angry with me," she continued.

In its answer to the complaint, Solage denied all allegations as did Ferrer in his deposition.

Despite the settlement, which included no admission of wrongdoing, Solage did not fire Ferrer.

Eastwood believes her sexual assault could have been prevented.

"I will live with this, you know and it didn't have to happen," said Eastwood.

"They knew what type of person that he was and we told them all of us told them how he was and they didn't listen. They had the opportunity to fire him and they continued to let him work there," said Muller.

Attorney John Winer represents the four former employees and is also now representing Alisha Eastwood.

"Alisha's case to me represents a company not taking responsibility for what it needed to do," said Winer.

"He just goes on his merry way," he continued.

According to the California Massage Therapy Council, Ferrer's license expired in May of 2022.

In October, Ferrer started working at Health Spa Napa Valley, but was let go this month. Health Spa Nappy Valley tells the I-Team there was no incident or complaint involving Ferrer while he worked there but that after learning about Eastwood's allegations, he is no longer employed by Health Spa Napa Valley.

ABC7 News attempts to reach Ferrer went unanswered.

Solage, Auberge Resorts, the attorney and public relations company representing them, have not yet responded to our emails or phone calls requesting a comment.

Eastwood says she's sharing her story out of concern for others.

"I don't want this to happen to anybody else," said Eastwood.

Take a look at more stories by the ABC7 News I-Team.

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