New Brunswick

More than 100 women, minors filmed by now-deceased massage therapist, according to court documents

Some of the more than 100 women filmed by Pierre Wust were minors when they were videotaped dressing and undressing, according to a statement of claim filed in court on Thursday.

Statement of claim filed Thursday says some women filmed by Pierre Wust were minors

Bridget Thornton and Pamela Moxon say they were both videotaped without their knowledge by Pierre Wust, a now-deceased Fredericton massage therapist. (Jon Collicott/CBC)

More than 100 women were filmed by a now-deceased Fredericton massage therapist, according to a statement of claim filed on behalf of the victims on Thursday.

Some of those victims were minors at the time they were videotaped dressing and undressing inside Pierre Wust's treatment room.

The Fredericton Police Force is working to identify and contact all the women who appear on the videos and have identified about 40 to date, according to lawyers who represent some victims.

More than two dozen of the women who have been identified so far are part of a lawsuit filed Thursday against Wust's estate. It also names the clinic where the victims were filmed, Myoflex Massage and Rejuvenation Clinic, and the business's owner, Jolanta Kurz, as defendants.

Robert Jackson, the executor of Wust's estate, declined comment.

Kurz did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CBC News on Thursday. No statements of defence have yet been filed. 

'I'm doing this for her too'

Pamela Moxon was treated by Wust about six times per year from 2009 until 2016.

She was captured on video "in various states of undress while changing in the treatment room," the statement of claim says. 

"I'm not only doing this for myself and the other victims but I had to identify my daughter, who was then a teenager at the time," said Moxon, who is one of two representative plaintiffs in the suit.

"So I'm doing this for her too."

The two law firms who filed Thursday's statement of claim are hoping the lawsuit will be certified as a class action.

Wust made secret video recordings of his massage therapy clients, according to the college that regulates the profession. He died in January. (McAdam's Funeral Home)

The statement of claim says the class action period covers the years 2008 to 2017.

None of the allegations have been proven in court. 

Wust worked at Myoflex Massage and Rejuvenation Clinic from 2006 until his death on Jan. 10 of this year. He stopped practising in 2017 because of his multiple sclerosis, but continued to work in an administrative capacity at the clinic.

During that time, the statement of claim says Wust filmed women without their knowledge and "would later view the videos and photos from time to time for his own sexual gratification."

Police trying to identify victims

The statement alleges Wust viewed and edited the videos and then saved them on at least one USB drive and other storage media. He also took screen shots of some of the videos.

"When saving the videos and photos Wust used a naming protocol which incorporated the date of the video and certain details about the victims that he wanted to remember, such as their occupation, sport or other identifying details," the statement of claim says.

While police are working on identifying the women, the case is not a "priority" for the police force because of its limited resources, according to John McKiggan, a partner at Halifax firm McKiggan Hebert, which filed the statement of claim with Fredericton-based Foster and Company.

"They are focusing their resources on people who are likely to face criminal charges," McKiggan said.

"Pierre's dead, he's never going to be charged. So how fast do you think they're going to get around to doing a forensic examination of that computer?"

Such an audit would determine whether Wust shared the images online, McKiggan said.

Last week, the College of Massage Therapists of New Brunswick released a statement saying its own private investigation showed no evidence Wust shared the videos online.

Wust treated patients at Myoflex Massage and Rejuvenation Clinic in Fredericton from 2006 until 2017, when his health forced him to stop practising. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

But McKiggan said the college can't say that for sure until someone does a forensic audit of Wust's computer.

"To say that there's no evidence that these videos were shared is a statement without any foundation whatsoever, and I think it's reckless and irresponsible to make that statement," he said.

The college referred questions to its lawyer on Thursday.

The victims

Moxon didn't know she'd been secretly videotaped by Wust until she was contacted by police last week. 

She said police told her they were "very busy working on homicide cases" and because Wust no longer poses a threat, the case was put on the backburner.

Bridget Thornton, the other representative plaintiff, was only treated by Wust once, in 2015.

"From the moment that I walked into the clinic and met with Pierre, I felt uncomfortable," Thornton said.

"My gut feeling was to just leave. I don't know why."

Thornton said she continued with the massage because she felt guilty about cancelling at the last minute.

But she chose to leave her pants on during the massage, something she typically didn't do.

"I left there and never returned," Thornton said.

"I even told my husband that night how uncomfortable I felt." 

A third victim, Lori Wheeler, learned she was secretly filmed when police called her last Thursday. Wheeler was on vacation in Ireland when she got the call.

Lori Wheeler says police called her last Thursday to tell her she was secretly filmed by now-deceased massage therapist, Pierre Wust. (Jon Collicott/CBC)

She'd watched the secret videos of herself less than 24 hours before Thursday's news conference. Based on her tattoos, she believes they were filmed five to seven years apart.

"It's been a traumatic week," Wheeler said.

She said she trusted Wust and had a lot of empathy for him, because her husband also has multiple sclerosis. 

"To learn [of the videos] was a slap in the face and a complete violation of my privacy," she said.

The suit claims negligence and breach of fiduciary duty on the part of the defendants and says the victims had their privacy invaded.

The statement of claim says they're seeking an apology and "declaration of legal responsibility" from the defendants, as well as "a validation and compensation program to privately assist the plaintiffs and other class members," plus loss of income and ability to earn income and other costs and damages.

About the Author

Karissa Donkin is a journalist in CBC's Atlantic investigative unit. Do you have a story you want us to investigate? Send your tips to NBInvestigates@CBC.ca.