I was fondled by creepy masseurs – and let them get away with it. As a celebrity masseur is cleared of sexual assault, Amanda Platell tells her own troubling story
08:56 GMT, 21 June 2012
Amanda Platell: 'The massages became more intimate, verging on sexual assault'
When an attractive Eastern European masseur was first charged with sexually assaulting his clients in London, a shiver went down my spine. Even now I feel uncomfortable admitting it, but I, too, have had my own unsettling experiences with a gorgeous foreign masseur.
When handsome Daniel Pytlarz, 35, was unanimously cleared of all charges by a jury of six men and six women last week, his beautiful blonde wife Urszula, also his assistant, was there to celebrate the verdict.
She had never doubted him, nor had numerous other female clients who had come forward to testify against the evidence of the 18 women who brought the original charges.
Reading the details of the court
case, I was struck by the fact that all the women claiming to have been
assaulted were middle-class professionals — just as I had been when I
engaged the services of my own Mr Masseur, as I shall call him here.
While I am not for a moment casting any doubt on the innocence of Mr Pytlarz, the story had discomfiting echoes for me.
I was in my early thirties, I was stressed out from working ten hours a
day, six days a week as the deputy editor of a national newspaper and
struggling with the emotional aftermath of a divorce.
Masseur was my salvation. Once a week he would arrive at my home, a
Polish Adonis, with his massage bed, his well-toned muscles, his charm
and his magic hands. A little too magic, as I was to discover.
He was recommended by an acquaintance who said he was the best masseur she had ever had. And indeed he was — at first.
I sought no references and none were
offered. The truth is, I knew nothing about the man who would come into
my home at night and massage my cares away. The first time he visited, I
insisted my then-fiance Christopher was there. After all, what kind of
woman invites a strange man into her home, strips to their undies and
allows them to massage their body
But within minutes Mr Masseur had put
me at my ease. And he was utterly brilliant at his job. He kneaded and
pummelled my troubles away. An hour with him transformed me from a
stressed-out executive into a super-relaxed superwoman who felt she
could take on the world.
The sense of well-being he bestowed
on me was worth far more than the 45 he charged, which back in the
early nineties was a fortune.
the first five or six sessions, I couldn’t speak highly enough of him.
But then, during a treatment I felt a distinct pang of unease. I didn’t
have any stress in my inner thighs, so why on earth was he spending so
much time there
as is typical of so many of my sex, I dismissed my fears as silliness on
my part. This man was a professional after all.
Even when the upper
chest massage started to creep a little too close to my breasts, I still
said or did nothing — but my embarrassment was acute.
Then, one night, the inner thigh
massage got way too close for comfort. Instead of relieving my stress,
it made me feel very distressed indeed.
And yet still I said nothing at the time, just like the women who complained against Mr Pytlarz.
One said the massages began by making her feel ‘relaxed, rejuvenated, full of life and raring to go’.
she alleged that they soon began to take on a ‘sinister undertone’.
Another said she was ‘petrified’ and couldn’t wait to get out of his
premises quickly enough.
We know that Mr Pytlarz was completely innocent — but that’s not to say all masseurs are.
rely on the fact that women, even if they are inappropriately touched,
are so embarrassed, they are unlikely to say or do anything about it.
Innocent: Daniel Pytlarz, with wife Urszula, was cleared of 18 charges
And how ironic that most of those who can afford such treatments are successful career women. We’re no shrinking violets.
Yet when placed in such a position we become petrified, unable to defend ourselves.
In my case I initially dismissed my fears, asking myself what on earth an incredibly handsome young man would want with me
a professional, I told myself, then I began to question this — after
all, what qualifications does a home masseur need exactly
to my fianc the next day, he was incensed. ‘Did you tell him to stop,
that you felt uncomfortable, that it was inappropriate’ he demanded.
‘No, I didn’t. I felt so embarrassed and ridiculous,’ I confessed.
‘You’re the deputy editor of a newspaper!’ he said.
‘If you read about a court case
involving a woman who had been raped or sexually assaulted by a hunky
masseur who she invited into her home week after week and stripped to
her knickers in front of, then claimed he touched her inappropriately,
what would you think’
truth I would think she was a fool, or ‘asking for it’ — and the fear
that people would think the same of me stopped me complaining to the
masseur, or to the police.
you may find it hard to believe, but Mr Masseur is not the only
therapist I’ve had a problem with. While back in Australia on holiday to
visit my family in 2005, I used to see a chap who worked at the local
Daniel and his wife Urszula outside court after he was found not guilty of indecent assault
Again he was handsome and charming, with well-honed muscles. In his tight white T-shirt and perma-tan, he looked like an extra from Baywatch.
It all began well, and in the first few sessions he was friendly and attentive, with strong hands that were able to reach the parts others couldn’t reach — until that in itself became the problem.
I knew after my experience in London I wasn’t imagining it when the massages became more intimate, verging on, but not actually constituting, a sexual assault.
I made my excuses and left — and never went back.
Did I make a complaint No. Did I cut and run, never to return Yes. It’s a curious thing that women of my generation and those younger than me — post-feminist, empowered — are still too embarrassed to confront these situations, preferring to slink away, shame-faced and silent.
These are professional women who hold down good jobs and often feel confident bossing men around.
So why, when they’re lying there, vulnerable with a perfect stranger — a stranger who should be acting in professional manner — do they allow themselves to be exploited in a way they never would at work or in their private lives
Talking to other women I know who have been in similar situations — a surprising number — a reason emerged: they thought it was somehow their fault, that they’d put themselves in a compromising position.
I have to confess I felt the same way too — and that’s one of the reasons I haven’t had a massage with a male therapist since.
But why did they think that If a gynaecologist behaved in such a way and — instead of carrying out an examination — started touching us in a sexual way, I’m sure we would complain.
Do women feel fools for expecting just a massage from their hunky masseur, when, in reality, there may be others who do want something more intimate for their money
There may well be some lonely women who seek intimacy with a paid stranger because they can’t get it elsewhere, or other ladies who enjoy receiving an illicit thrill.
The tanned, toned masseur must be somewhere in the top 20 of women’s fantasies — although after my experiences, he’s certainly not in mine.