CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A Charlotte-area massage therapist is convicted of inappropriately touching a woman during a massage in 2016.
A jury found 30-year-old Eric Pierre Stewart guilty of sexual battery.
“As Stewart performed the massage, he inappropriately touched the victim,” the District Attorney’s Office says. It happened at a Charlotte business, although the name or location of the business was not provided.
Three additional women testified before the jury about their experiences of Stewart touching inappropriately during massages.
Court officials say Stewart pleaded guilty before his case was called for trial. Proceedings started last Monday and wrapped up Thursday.
Kristen Northrup, Mecklenburg County Assistant District Attorney, spoke with WBTV following the conviction Thursday. The prosecutor explained that Stewart’s actions in 2016 have had a lasting impact on the victim.
“For the victim, this was an absolutely terrible crime. She’s had lasting effects in her life. She testified in court that she is less trusting of people in general and she has never received another massage since and has no plans to do so,” said Northrup.
The assistant district attorney noted that multiple women have made accusations against Stewart. She said four different women testified against the massage therapist during the trial.
“As far as Mr. Stewart was concerned we did have somewhat of a pattern and somewhat of a common plan. I can’t speak to the broader conversation about that but as it relates to Mr. Stewart, but we had four separate victims,” said Northrup.
An employee at Zen Massage told WBTV Thursday evening that no comment would be made regarding Stewart’s conviction.
Dr. Matthew Alexander works right across the street from the massage business on East Blvd. He said he and his family members have been to Zen Massage for massages and have never had a negative experience. He thinks the incident with Stewart is an outlier.
“It’s upsetting, but I think the reality is there are bad apples in every crop so this was a bad apple. I don’t think it has anything to do with this organization,” said Alexander.
According to court testimony, Stewart was working at LaVida Massage of Ballantyne as recently as Sunday. The owner of the business confirmed Thursday night that Stewart was no longer employed at the business. The owner said she did not wish to comment further on the matter.
Stewart was sentenced to 60 days in the Mecklenburg County Jail. His sentence will be suspended if he completes 24 months of supervised probation. He must surrender his massage therapist license and register as a sex offender for 30 years.