Comic book impresario Stan Lee was accused of inappropriately touching himself and a massage therapist during two massage sessions last year at a South Loop hotel, according to a lawsuit filed on Monday.
The massage therapist, Maria Carballo, filed the lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court accusing Lee of assault, battery, gender-based violence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The suit also alleges that Lee and his former assistant, Mac “Max” Anderson, engaged in civil conspiracy.
Lee, the 95-year-old former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, has co-created superheroes like Spider-Man, the X-Men and Black Panther.
Lee’s attorney, Jonathan Freund, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the allegations.
On April 21, 2017, Anderson arranged a two-hour massage with Therapy Professionals, a Chicago-based massage therapy company, according to the suit. Carballo, who worked as an independent contractor for the company, was sent to give Lee the massage later that evening at his suite at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, 2233 S. King Drive.
Anderson brought Carballo to Lee’s bedroom and gave her instructions for the massage, the suit claims. About 30 minutes into the session, Carballo noticed that Lee was fondling himself while he was lying on his stomach. After Carballo had him roll over, Lee began to “moan and groan” when she started massaging his quadriceps.
Carballo then ended the session, and Anderson agreed to pay Carballo for an hour of her time, according to the suit.
Carballo initially refused to return to Lee’s room the following day when the owner of Therapy Professionals offered her another job, claiming he made her uncomfortable, the suit claims. She ultimately agreed to return to Lee’s suite after her boss relayed an apology from him and ensured there would be no further issues.
During their conversation, Carballo’s boss “stressed the importance of appeasing ‘VIP’ clients,” according to the suit.
Therapy professionals didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
When she arrived at Lee’s hotel that night, Carballo was met in the lobby and escorted to his suite by hotel staff and a member of Lee’s team, the suit alleges. They thanked her and apologized for Lee’s behavior the previous day.
About an hour into the massage, Lee again started moaning when Carballo massaged his quadriceps, according to the suit. She immediately cut off the massage and asked him to get dressed, at which point an angry Lee stood up completely naked and demanded she finish the massage.
Carballo agreed to continue for another 10 minutes by giving him a Shiatsu massage, which she performed with her feet to ensure “more protection in case Lee acted inappropriately again,” the suit claims.
A few minutes later, Lee grabbed Carballo’s foot and moved it against his penis and scrotum, according to the suit. After freeing herself from his grip, Carballo asked to be paid and Lee handed over $240 in cash.
While she was leaving the hotel, Anderson thanked Carballo and gave her a wad of cash as a tip, the suit claims. She took the money and went home.
Anderson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
On the heels of the Me Too movement, Carballo decided to “fight for her dignity” by going public with her allegations, according to the suit.
Carballo filed a criminal complaint about the second incident on March 16, according to Chicago Police. The complaint is still being investigated by Area Central detectives.
Carballo’s suit seeks more than $50,000, as well as an award for punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and other costs.