Santa Barbara Resort and Masseur Sued for Sexual Assault

DA, Sheriff’s Deputy’s Investigation Met with Resistance from Hotel Staff

The Spa at Bacara | Credit: Jim Bartsch

A Santa Barbara woman has filed legal papers against Ritz-Carlton Bacara and a masseur she charged sexually assaulted her there during a massage on July 10, 2021. 

According to the report filed the following day with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, the woman — a 25-year resident of Santa Barbara and mother of three young children — was at the Bacara that Sunday to celebrate a friend’s birthday with a morning massage. In the course of the massage, she alleged her masseur — who reportedly identified himself as “Jacob” — instructed her to take off all her underwear. This she found unusual. In the course of the massage, she alleged Jacob massaged her upper thigh with one hand and touched her vagina repeatedly with the other and committed other inappropriate actions of a sexual nature. “Plaintiff was frozen. She felt she could not move or speak. She was shocked and disgusted,” stated attorney Jennifer Miller in her complaint. When the massage came to a close, Miller’s client said, Jacob stated, “‘That was beautiful.’”

According to Miller, her client called Ritz-Carlton several times over the following weeks to complain, but her client either didn’t hear back or was transferred to other individuals at the hotel with the assurance that they would call back, but none did. She spoke briefly with the director of loss prevention, she stated, who told her to contact the Sheriff’s Office.


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Miller provided a written copy of the sheriff’s report taken a day after the incident and signed by Deputy Sheriff R. Van Tassel. In it, Van Tassel stated, “At the time of this report, I have yet to identify or interview Jacob. Multiple attempts were made by me to identify ‘Jacob’ at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara Resort. My efforts were met with resistance by staff members, who said various things such as they were not the right person.” The Sheriff’s Office has since completed its investigation and referred criminal charges to the District Attorney’s Office, which declined to file charges due to insufficient evidence.

The Independent also made multiple efforts over the last three weeks asking for a response to the claims made in this lawsuit from Ritz-Carlton or their attorney. None of those calls or emails have been answered. A call to the hotel spa revealed that a man by that name no longer worked there. Repeated calls to the private business where Jacob reportedly works elicited no response. Calls to his attorney have likewise elicited no response. 

In her court pleading, Miller — a partner in the same firm that has successfully sued the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Boy Scouts of America for sexual misconduct — has demanded a jury trial.


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