City Councilor Sued For Defamation
Massage parlors are places where people go to relax, but two Tulsa venues are now at the center of a very tense lawsuit."Something not OK is happening inside these walls," said Tulsa city councilor Blake Ewing.It was back in March, when the Tulsa city council heard an appeal on a nuisance complaint."Does a person who has been subjected to a nuisance complaint have a right to say I didn't do that?" said Attorney Tony Mareshie, who was there on behalf of the owner of All Hands on Massage and the Swedish Relaxation Center, both facilities where a masseuse had been cited for prostitution."It's extraordinary," said Mareshie, describing how his client's reputation was harmed after the hearing got heated."Is that property a nuisance to my community? Yes it is man. It is. My kids live here. Ok. In this town. And that business is a nuisance, and the guy that owns it is a nuisance," said Ewing.Which legally, is where things get sticky. Part of the the lawsuit is the assertion that the city presented no evidence that the owner knew of or participated in, any unlawful activity. And that the owner has never been charged or cited for any illegal activity relating to his businesses. And yet at the council meeting..."I can sit here and determine that when somebody owns a business like that and over and over and over again he's choosing to objectify and victimize young women and putting them into prostitution through a massage "veil," I can call it what it is," said Ewing. "You're accusing him of committing crimes now," responded Mareshie. "Buddy, I'm accusing him of what anybody would accuse him of," said Ewing. "No you are," said Mareshie. "I'm accusing this guy of being involved in businesses..." said Ewing. "No, you accused him of committing crimes engaging young women," said Mareshie. "That's exactly what he does man," said Ewing.Hence the lawsuit for defamation."In this particular case Mr. Cousino was accused of criminality," said Mareshie.The irony? That a councilor once pleased about not being a court of law, is headed for one."The good thing about us not being a court of law is that I'm allowed to use my just general human reasoning and common sense when evaluating this and I'm not bound by some law as it relates to the presented evidence," said Ewing.