Jury Rejects Woman’s Claim of Sexual Abuse by Equinox Masseur

A jury Wednesday rejected claims brought by a former Equinox Pilates instructor who alleged that a masseur who worked at the same West Hollywood health club sexually abused her during a session in 2016.

The Los Angeles Superior Court panel deliberated for less than a day before finding in favor of Equinox Holdings Inc. and the masseur, 51-year-old Derek Mallard, and against 41-year-old Susan Bracken.

Bracken’s lawsuit was filed in August 2017, alleging sexual harassment, battery, and wrongful termination. Bracken said she was fired by Equinox managing agents in New York after she took a lengthy leave of absence to get counseling for her ordeal, even though local human resources employees knew the decision could clash with California law.

But Equinox attorney Thomas Mackey argued the firing was justified because Bracken kept asking for extensions of her leave that seemed to have no end.

According to her court papers, Bracken is a career dancer who had taught Pilates for nine years. She moved to California in 2013 and began working at Equinox’s West Hollywood club the next year.

Bracken said she had previous massages with Mallard that were routine. But she said that after the alleged inappropriate touching she endured on Sept. 3, 2016, she became anxious about the well-being of other co-workers who also had been receiving his services.

“I was really worried for their safety,” Bracken said.

Instead of sharing her concerns, Equinox management told her not to contact anyone about what had happened to her, Bracken alleged.

She said the experience took an emotional toll on her and that she began having panic attacks.

Mallard denied Bracken’s allegations, testifying that they made him upset.

“When somebody tells a lie on you, you get angry,” he said.

Mallard said he was hired by Equinox in 2012 and left four years later.


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kab1200
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kab1200

Good, the entire thing sounded really off. And if she was his friend and they were trading services, she could have just told him that somethng bothered her, that he did. At that time.

Vigilant
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Vigilant

Ms. Brackens complaint failed to have a ring of truth. Responsible women or any one for that matter should know how to seamlessly avoid initial situations she portrayed whether accidental or suggestive. Move on, be true and responsible for one’s self. Pilates and affiliated modalities such as yoga afford one the opportunity to work through the initial stress of such situations. The fact that they become perpetual panic attacks seems unlikely. My very wise attorney once said to me “you can get yourself embroiled in a chancy lawsuit or you can live your life. You can’t do both.”

Blueeyedboy
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Blueeyedboy

I’ve never met this woman but I feel like I know her very, very well.

It appears Derek Mallard has been vindicated but he may never recover from the toll this has taken on him. #MeToo has left many innocent men destroyed and with few, if any, to care for his well-being and to come to his aid.

The divide between men and women is getting wider as some people say progress is being made.

Eric Jon Schmidt
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Eric Jon Schmidt

Very well stated! The #MeToo movement has done some good work, but it has also opened the door to many false accusations. The damages Mallard suffered far outweigh the damages that Bracken manufactured. It’s just not right that this sort of thing occurs. I am surprised that the Court would even allow such a flimsy case to move forward.

Alison
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Alison

Just because the jury denied her claims, it doesn’t mean they were manufactured.