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Woman sues Virgin Active gym in Colliers Wood over alleged sexual assault by member
A woman is suing a gym she claims failed in its duty to protect her after she was allegedly sexually assaulted by another member.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was a member of the Virgin Active leisure centre in Colliers Wood when the alleged assault happened in April 2008.
She claims after a brief conversation with the man about a haematoma on her leg, he followed her into a steam room where he began massaging her leg without her permission.
Concerned there may be a sexual aspect to it she instead asked the man to massage her neck.
During the massage she claims he brushed his hand across her breast before pinning her down flat on a bench kissing her, forcing his tongue into her mouth.
The woman left the steam room and reported the incident to another member who allegedly to have said the man was a known “pest” toward women.
Concerned he could be a threat to other women, she complained to Virgin Active and called for the man, who had already alledgedly been given a “warning” for inappropriate behaviour by gym management, to be banned.
Virgin Active have said they had not issued a warning and had received no compliants regarding the member's behaviour.
One month after the assault the woman was told the man’s membership had been cancelled implying he had been banned, but discovered he had actually voluntarily cancelled his membership before, the gym claims, it was able to ban him.
The man allegedly admitted a kiss had taken place, but said the woman had instigated it, but denied putting his tongue into her mouth.
The man was arrested but no charges were brought.
The woman is suing the gym who she says should have banned the man sooner given a number of alledged previous complaints by both members and staff at the gym.
A spokesperson for Virgin Active said: “The well-being of our members is of utmost importance to us.
"At Virgin Active we have clear rules regarding appropriate behaviour, which we expect our members to follow when they are visiting our clubs.
"Whenever we are made aware of any unacceptable behaviour towards other members or our staff, appropriate action is taken.”
Sasha Barton, solicitor at Hodge Jones & Allen who is representing the woman, said: “Virgin Active has a contractual duty to protect their members from harm whilst on their premises.
"They failed to act swiftly or take this woman’s concerns seriously.
"Virgin Active needs to have proper safeguards in place across all their clubs to protect members and staff from unwanted harassment and assault.”
The case concluded at the Central London County Court on September 16 after seven days.
A decision on the case has been reserved to a later yet to be announced date.
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