Thu, Nov. 21

With criminal trial pending, former Cottonwood masseur ordered to pay nearly $5 million in civil case

Aaron F. Orrico

Aaron F. Orrico

CAMP VERDE — With a jury having recently awarded nearly $5 million to two women in a civil suit against a Cottonwood man, a trial on criminal charges looms in the months ahead.

Aaron F. Orrico, 48, arrested in November 2016 after he was accused of inappropriately touching women during massage sessions in Sedona, was sued by two of the women, identified in court documents as M.N. and S.Y.

An eight-person Yavapai County Superior Court jury issued a verdict in favor of the two women after a three-day trial in August, and on Sept. 18, awarded financial damages to them. Orrico was a masseur a Sedona spa, however, the jury ordered Orrico to pay all the damages.

Orrico is to pay $4 million in punitive damages to the two women, along with medical expenses of $300,000 to M.N. and $630,000 to S.Y. The women say they suffered physical, emotional and psychological trauma after receiving massages from Orrico in 2016.

The woman identified in court documents as “M.N.,” a Massachusetts resident, said Orrico touched and fondled her during a massage in February 2016. She told him, “No thanks.” His alleged response was to have whispered in her ear: “I hope I didn’t offend you,” according to court records

She reported the incident to the spa and to the Sedona Police Department. Orrico denied the allegations.

The second alleged incident happened in June of the same year, when a woman identified as “S.Y.,” an Arizona resident, also alleged inappropriate touching. Orrico’s response to her was, according to the suit, that he “only wanted to make her feel good.”

The woman said she reported the incident to the spa and was told this was the first time anyone had claimed Orrico had engaged in any type of sexual conduct with a client. The lawsuit said a third woman, who is not a plaintiff and is identified as “P.W.,” also was touched inappropriately later in November, while Orrico was working sporadically at another spa.

All three women said they filed police reports on the incidents. P.W. is not a plaintiff in the civil suit.

Orrico had his massage license taken away, having held that since 2014. Orrico was also charged with three counts of sexual assault, all occurring in 2016. He was released on a $15,000 bond and was originally denied a public defender, as he was originally determined to be “non-indigent by the court,” but after a private attorney withdrew from the case in May 2018, he was appointed a public defender with the stipulation that he must reimburse the public defender’s office.

He was later declared “indigent” by the court. The jury trial start date for the three criminal charges is Feb. 19, 2020. Seven court days are allotted for the trial. A pretrial conference is set for Jan. 27.

Motion deadlines are set for two dates in November. Judge Michael Bluff is presiding over the criminal case.

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