Class-action lawsuit alleges N.B. massage therapist secretly filmed female clients
Published Thursday, July 18, 2019 4:41PM ADT Last Updated Thursday, July 18, 2019 8:24PM ADT
FREDERICTON -- A proposed class action lawsuit has been filed against a Fredericton massage therapist who allegedly recorded secret videos of more than 100 female patients in various states of undress.
John McKiggan, a lawyer behind the class action, said the videos were only discovered by the executor of Pierre Charles Wust's estate after he died in January, and no charges were ever laid.
The court document, filed Thursday with the New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench, says Wust secretly videotaped clients between 2008 and 2017, including some minors.
It names Myoflex Massage and Rejuvenation Clinic, Jolanta Kurz -- who was owner of the clinic when Wust worked there -- and Wust's estate as defendants. It alleges negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and invasion of privacy on the part of the defendants.
"When someone presents for treatment with a health care professional, and in this case a massage therapist, we are exposing ourselves both literally and figuratively to those health care professionals," McKiggan told a news conference Thursday. "We are at our most vulnerable and we trust that these health care professionals are going to treat us with the best of their ability and respect us and our privacy."
Kurz said Thursday she had been unaware of the alleged videotaping. "Of course not," she responded when asked, declining to make any further comment on the case.
Pamela Moxon and Bridget Thornton, two of Wust's clients, say they decided to come forward to be the representative plaintiffs in the case after police showed them their videos.
"I decided to represent this class in hopes that any of the other victims will be able to come forward and hopefully not feel ashamed about what has happened to them," Thornton said.
Moxon said she had to identify her daughter, who was a teenager at the time she was treated by Wust, in one of the videos. "I'm doing this for her too," she said crying, specifying that her daughter, now an adult, had given her permission to discuss her involvement.
Moxon said Wust was always professional with her, and she never felt uncomfortable at the clinic, while Thornton said she did feel uncomfortable and only visited him once.
Lori Wheeler of Fredericton added her name to the legal action Thursday just hours after she says police showed her the video of her visits to the clinic.
"I wanted to be here to offer my support to Bridget and Pamela. It has been a traumatic week. It has been rough," she said, her voice breaking.
Fredericton police will only say they are investigating a complaint of voyeurism against a deceased individual and there is no further risk to the public.
The College of Massage Therapists of New Brunswick hired its own private investigator, who determined no other current or former therapists were aware of Wust's conduct.
"They did not determine that there was anyone else in the college's jurisdiction that was involved in these actions," said David Shore, a lawyer for the college.
He said, at this point, the college doesn't plan to take any further action. "Where the individual who the allegations are against is deceased, the college doesn't have any jurisdiction to pursue disciplinary proceedings," Shore said.
McKiggan and the two women are urging other clients of Wust to come forward to police and the law firm to join the possible class action.
"No amount of money is going to change what happened to these women," McKiggan said. "No amount of money is going to make them forget or make them more comfortable with the concern that there are creeps out there looking at these videotapes."
He said it's hoped the litigation forces the college to introduce new standards to protect the privacy of massage clients across the province.