Marvel Comics icon Stan Lee is being sued by Chicago-based massage therapist Maria Carballo for allegedly sexually harassing and grabbing her during two massage appointments last year.
Carballo’s complaint, filed Monday in Cook County circuit court, names Lee and his assistant Mac “Max” Anderson, who arranged the massage appointments. The complaint lists charges including assault, battery and emotional stress, and Carballo is seeking over $50,000 in damages, according to documents obtained by People.
Lee, 95, denied the allegations through his attorney Jonathan Freund, who told the Chicago Tribune that his client was shocked by the allegations.
“He is a high-profile public figure and I think it’s a shakedown,” Freund told the Chicago Tribune. “The guy is 95, I don’t think he would do that.”
Neither Lee or his attorney immediately responded to HuffPost’s request for comment.
According to the lawsuit, Lee hired Carballo to perform a two-hour massage on April 21, 2017, at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Chicago while Lee was in town for an annual comic expo called C2E2. About a half hour into the massage, Carballo alleges that Lee “began to fondle himself” while he was face down on the table. Later in the appointment, Lee allegedly began moaning as Carballo massaged his legs. Carballo immediately became uncomfortable and ended the massage, the suit says.
The next day, Carballo says, her boss called her asking that she massage Lee again. She initially refused, but her boss pressed the issue by apologizing for Lee’s behavior and reiterating the importance of “appeasing VIP clients,” according to the complaint. Eventually, Carballo acquiesced because she was afraid she would lose her job, she says.
An hour into the massage on April 22, 2017, Carballo claims Lee began moaning again, at which time she attempted to end the massage. According to the complaint, Lee stood up, naked and angry, and demanded that Carballo continue the massage. She says she agreed to 10 more minutes, fearing what he would do if she did not continue.
Carballo switched to a shiatsu massage method, which uses only the masseur’s feet, in order to keep her distance, the Chicago Tribune reports. According to the lawsuit, “Lee grabbed [Carballo’s] foot and moved it against his penis and scrotum.” Carballo says she immediately ended the massage, collected $240 for the appointment and left. Before she got on the elevator, Lee’s assistant allegedly gave her a big tip in cash.
She did not report the incident because she was “fearful that, in light of Lee’s wealth and status, reporting the incident to police would hurt her job,” the lawsuit states.
“For a long time, I was afraid to ask anyone to help me hold Mr. Lee accountable for how he treated me. He is rich and famous. I am not,” Carballo said in a statement provided to Page Six. “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.”
Lee’s business partner, Keya Morgan, told TMZ that Lee is “completely harmless” and “100 percent innocent.”