Crime

North Carolina Casino Massage Therapist Avoids Prison, Enters Pleas on Sex Assaults

An ex-massage therapist entered pleas this month to allegations he sexually assaulted two clients at Mandara Spa in North Carolina’s Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, according to the local district attorney. The defendant will apparently avoid time in prison.

North Carolina District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch, shown with her dog, Bella, at her office. Welch announced that a former massage therapist entered pleas on two sex assault cases. They took place at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, police said. (Image: Smoky Mountain News)

Anthony Brian Robinson, 45, of Clyde, N.C. entered the pleas under the Alford doctrine. Defendants who enter pleas under the doctrine do not admit guilt, Jackson County District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch explained in an online statement. But they recognize there is evidence against them.

Robinson formerly worked at the spa. He allegedly assaulted a woman on April 21, 2018, when she was in a massage room.

She informed the manager of the salon about the incident and asked local police to be contacted. Instead, hotel security staff were called, Welch said. On her own, the woman dialed 911 on a phone to get in touch with Cherokee Indian police.

Another woman was allegedly sexually assaulted by Robinson on Aug. 31, 2018.  That also took place in a massage room. Like the first woman, she contacted Cherokee Police. The tribal police department investigated their allegations. The cases were turned over to local prosecutors.

This month, Robinson was sentenced in Jackson County Superior Court on two counts of sexual battery. As of now, Robinson will avoid prison. He received two concurrent suspended sentences of 18 months in prison, plus probation.

As a condition of the sentence, Robinson must undergo mental health and sexual abuse assessments. He must comply with any treatment recommendations. Robinson also will be listed for at least 10 years on North Carolina’s sex offender registry.

It also was revealed earlier this year in a federal court document that the second victim has sued Robinson and the spa in North Carolina federal court.

Her lawsuit alleges Robinson committed “battery, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence.” She seeks punitive damages.

She also claims a business entity connected with the spa had “negligent supervision, negligent retention.” She seeks punitive damages from that business, too.

Also, the second victim filed a separate civil action in state court in Wake County, N.C. The current status of the two lawsuits was unclear. Various motions were filed in the federal case on behalf of Robinson.

Defendant in Las Vegas Sex Assault Commits Suicide

In an unrelated incident, an employee accused of sexually assaulting a woman guest at Las Vegas’s Circus Circus Hotel and Casino died while awaiting a trial.

Arthur Joseph Martinez, 56, killed himself on March 26, according to the Clark County Office of the Coroner, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Martinez was charged with one count of sexual assault in connection with a 2019 incident, according to the Review-Journal. The case later was dismissed. Attorneys representing Martinez claimed the sex between Martinez and the woman was consensual.

Based on initial versions of events, Martinez, who was a maintenance worker at Circus Circus, went to the woman’s hotel room with soda after a vending machine malfunctioned.

She let him into her room, police said. She had been drinking alcohol.

While he was in the room, Martinez allegedly sexually assaulted the woman, she later told police. Four hours later, the woman was tested at a local hospital for blood alcohol content. It was at 0.142 percent, police said. In contrast, .08 percent blood alcohol level is the legal limit for drivers.

“The intoxicated state that (she) would have been in for that moment would inhibit her ability to give consent for a sexual encounter,” a detective said in a police report.

Ed Silverstein

Gaming Law, Tribal Gaming, Crime, Gaming Research----An award-winning journalist with credits ranging from the Associated Press to American Lawyer Media, Ed joined the Casino.org news team in 2019 with decades of legal reporting expertise under his belt. His past reporting and editing assignments include Cowles Business Media, Columbia University Press, the Connecticut Post, and Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc. Besides the law and its application to the gaming industry, Ed’s areas of expertise span business, courts, crime, politics, education, and state and local government. With an undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut (where he now lives), and master’s degrees from Harvard and Yale, Ed’s professional awards include recognition from the New England Press Association and New England AP News Executives. Email: ed.silverstein@casino.org

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