Police investigated a bizarre case in which a Capitol Hill day spa owner says her 80-year-old father took over her business while she was out sick, sent employees home and allegedly installed video recording equipment in an effort to record her clients while naked and showering.
According to the SPD report on the incident, the owner did not believe any of her clients had been recorded but police found signs ceiling tiles had been moved and cables tagged “DVR” above the spa’s shower area.
The Ritual Day Spa in the Harvard Market shopping center at Pike and Broadway stood shuttered this week with paper up in the windows and a note saying the facility was closed Tuesday for maintenance. According to state records, the business is owned by Julie Eisenberg. She previously operated Solar Tan at the location. We have a message out to Eisenberg to learn more about the situation.
Police say a woman described as the business’s owner contacted them Sunday, February 23rd to report a fraud. She told police she had been out sick since Thursday afternoon and went to check on the business Saturday night when she found the lock on her private office door had been changed. As she contacted employees she learned her father had come to the spa Friday with a locksmith and security camera crew and that checks had been written for payroll without her authorization. “He told employees he was going to be managing the business while his daughter was ill,” the SPD report documents. “He had employees then working go home and cancelled all employees who had been scheduled for the weekend saying there was going to be maintenance done.”
The woman told police her father was not part of the business’s ownership and had no right to install the equipment. She also said her father had “an extensive history of involvement in the pornography industry” —
The woman told police she was afraid her father would return that afternoon to attempt to finish the installation.
Police tells CHS the incident is currently being reviewed by the King County Prosecutor but is now being pursued as a civil case.
Over the weekend, the Ritual spa’s social media accounts posted a message about new management of the Harvard Market location and the related Solar Tan business. The linked Facebook message and account has since been deleted.
UPDATE: I’ve confirmed the father in the situation is Joel Eisenberg, a Seattle-area entrepreneur with a fascinating business history in the area. Despite how TV news is reporting the situation, this is no longer a criminal investigation and seems to fall more into the category of a family business dispute.
UPDATE x2: Joel Eisenberg has sent CHS an email about the incident and says that the salon will remain open. “Thank you for the fair and accurate coverage,” Eisenberg writes. “I wish the major media were as good. The true story is rather simple. I bought and paid for the salon and thus have the major ownership and I personally guaranteed the lease.”
“I gave control of it to my daughter who worked very hard and has a strong emotional commitment to it,” Eisenberg writes. “Over the last few months she lost interest and failed to manage it and abandoned it in writing, I stepped in and paid the employees and managed it and kept it open.”
Eisenberg also explained the work done inside the spa. “Among the many things I did was have the broken security cameras that monitor the public areas for the safety of the customers and employees replaced.”
Eisenberg writes that the dispute is a family business matter:
My daughter wanted to regain control of the Salon and over a weeklong period, called the police several times changed locks a couple of times.The false attention grabing accusation re the cameras was a ploy to get attention hurt her family and seize control . The Seattle Police closed the report based on the complaint being false. The Salon remains open .