Capitol Hill spa owner tells police dad installed unauthorized spy cam equipment

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” —Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 12.46.56 PM

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.Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 1.26.06 PM


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 .

36 thoughts on “Capitol Hill spa owner tells police dad installed unauthorized spy cam equipment

  1. The pervert’s name is Joel Eisenberg, aka “Jack Starworth” who pled guilty to tax evasion in 2010 after being investigated for years for ripping people off who dialed his phone sex lines. What a skeev.

  2. I am so happy the world still have people like her who are willing to lose their family for doing what is right. She is an exemplary business owner. I can’t imagine how she must feel after having to choose between her father and keeping people like us safe from people like him. If you ask me, she is an angel and he is a monster. Poor girl. I hope the community supports and helps her recover from the damages her father has done to her and her business. I know it was a tough decision for any daughter to make, but she did right by all of us and I am proud of her decision to call the police and seek for social justice, even if it is her dad.

    • Thank you! Well-said, I couldn’t say it better! Julie is very good at running her salon/spa, and I’m sad she’s got her perv father trying to poach her hard honest work.

  3. Don’t believe everything you read….she’s just as much at fault as her dad! Trust me the apple doesn’t fall to far from the tree!!

  4. Julie is one the most honest upstanding business owners in Seattle. This is a horrible incident for her to go through. Pam, you are a liar. I think I need a tan, Solar Tan here I come!

  5. It’s sad Julie and her friends are making these (obviously) fake accounts in order to save her/her fathers reputation. You can tell they are still close, just look at their website:

    Gross. I, for one, will be grabbing my suntan lotion and goggles and taking my business elsewhere. I will be telling all my friends and also encourage readers – if they don’t want to be illegally spied on while they’re naked – to do the same.

  6. So does anyone know why does Ritual Day Spa ask for applicants on craigslist to include a current photo with their resume? That seems pretty fishy to me….making sure that the photo of the potential applicant is attractive enough to work there for…..just sayin’.

  7. Jseattle, when I read this story, I thought this business is doomed for sure, the customers will leave in droves. Since you are generally supportive of area businesses, I wonder if you struggled with the decision to publish this since the man was not charged. One could argue that you’re digging for dirt in police files, but one could also argue that the public has a right to know. I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t have published this, just curious about your thought process and guiding editorial principles in this situation.

    • Given the significant interest these kinds of cases can draw, I see it as our responsibility to get in front of the story as soon as possible and do what we can to clarify and document what happened. In this situation, the SPD report process kind of breaks down because we discovered as we were reporting it that the case wasn’t being pursued as a criminal matter any longer. TV seems uninterested in that important element. I don’t see CHS’s role as protecting local businesses. I also don’t want to be their watchdog. I do see our role as an information distributor and influencer — we try to explain what we see and will be the first to admit to the interpretation of available facts.

  8. Oh lord.

    I thought those names sounded familiar, did a bit of googling, and yeah, this is the same family responsible for the early Seattle ISP It had an option to pay your bill with a 976 phonecall, and was a huge hacker haven. When they closed up shop, old customers started getting porn solicitations from their associated companies.

    That was pretty much Ian Eisenberg’s baby from what I can tell, looking at the old FTC document

    Not too sure I’d trust anyone with that last name.

  9. I went by there today to tan and they are movig everything out of the salon. She said they were Spring cleaning but everything is being loaded into u-haul trucks. All lotions, fixtures, etc are pack up. So weird!!