Brooklyn woman sues wellness app Soothe after massage therapist allegedly raped her in home

Massage therapy company Soothe is at the center of a disturbing lawsuit filed this week after an employee — identified as a known sexual predator — allegedly raped a Brooklyn customer.

The lawsuit, announced Tuesday by Merson Law at their Midtown office by attorneys Nathan Werksman and Jordan Merson, alleges that Soothe employed a man with an extensive history of sexually abusing women, including another customer.

The rape case at the heart of the lawsuit occurred on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 2022, according to the lawsuit. The husband of the victim, whose name was withheld, ordered his wife a massage for Valentine’s Day at their Bedford-Stuyvesant townhouse.

Soothe allegedly sent the attacker, identified by the alias Hernando Giraldo, to the victim’s home.

“I was alone in my home at my most vulnerable with the considerably larger and more powerful man that Soothe sent to my home. He abused that power and raped me. I’ve been traumatized by this event, since he knows where I live at the fear of this monster returning to my home. I entered therapy on my own dime and wake up a million times at night the slightest sound and fear of another attack,” the female victim said via a video message.

Photo by Dean Moses

The lawyers say that Soothe — which offers an array of on-demand beauty services, including hair and skincare, and massages that can, through an app, be delivered to homes — failed on its promise to ensure the safety of its customers with allegedly false pledges to extensively perform background checks and identify verification on its employees.

“As we’ve alleged in our complaint, and based on our understanding and belief, the background check and identification verification is performed by Evident ID and despite the assurances made to users and customers and to our client, the massage therapist that Soothe sent to our client’s home had, as we’ve alleged, a prior arrest for sexually assaulting another female Soothe customer. He was also, as we’ve alleged, operating under a fake name on the platform,” Werksman said. 

The lawsuit also includes Evident ID as a defendant for its alleged lapse in discovering the attacker’s criminal background.

The lawyers state that a similar attack has happened before under a different name and that currently the perpetrator is still at large, which is causing the victim even greater anxiety.

“It’s our understanding that he had a prior arrest for sexually assaulting a female sued customer,” Werksman told amNewYork Metro. 

The Brooklyn woman is seeking monetary damages and other measures from Soothe “to protect others from suffering a similar fate,” Werksman added.

In response to this lawsuit, Soothe Inc. assures that they take their clients’ safety seriously and are working with authorities in this investigation. 

“Our number one priority is the safety of our clients, and we take this allegation very seriously. We have a zero-tolerance policy regarding any and all harm to our clients or providers who use our platform. We work diligently to ensure all independent contractor therapists using our app are vigorously reviewed to ensure they meet our safety and licensing standards. We are actively working with authorities on this ongoing investigation,” Soothe Inc. said in a statement to amNewYork Metro.