Billboard in Athens addresses alleged sexual assault by local massage therapist

A billboard along highway 72 in Athens is calling out alleged sexual abuse by a massage therapist. The woman claiming the abuse says she wants to push lawmakers to make changes to Alabama law.

Posted: Mar. 11, 2018 10:19 PM
Updated: Mar. 11, 2018 10:21 PM

A billboard along highway 72 in Athens is calling out alleged sexual abuse by a massage therapist.


The woman claiming the abuse says she wants to push lawmakers to make changes to Alabama law. 

That law, she says, allowed her abuser to get away with a lesser charge.

"I choose who touches me, you do not stroke my crotch without asking me," said Rachell Pyle, who says she was sexually assaulted by her massage therapist last summer. 

Pyle paid for the billboard that reads, '“Stop massage therapy sexual assault.”

Pyle says reliving what she describes as her sexual assault is tough.

"I woke up to no sheets on me and him stroking my crotch," Pyle said.

Pyle says it was a day, like any other. She went to her regular massage therapist to get treatment for leg pain. The massage therapist was a man Pyle  trusted, but, she says the man violated that trust.

Pyle then pressed charges.

However, because of loopholes in the current law -- court documents say her alleged assaulter, Paul Dobbs, was charged only with the misdemeanor of harassment in July of last year.

Right now, Alabama law requires a victim to resist any attempt at assault.

Pyle admits she froze and couldn't fight back.

Also, the current law doesn't allow for a more severe charge unless there's sexual penetration.

I left a message for Dobbs. He hasn't returned WAAY 31's call.

Court documents show he is set to appear in court Thursday.

Pyle insists she had to take a stand, so she put up the billboard.

She's sending a clear message to lawmakers: she wants change and she wants it now.

"I've gotten a whole lot of support since this billboard went up," Pyle said. 

WAAY 31 reached out to Limestone County's District attorney, Brian Jones. 
Jones said lawmakers are working on changing the current law to make punishment more severe.

Senate bill 354 would rewrite the current law altogether. Its pending a third read in the senate -- but lawmakers won't take it to vote until the next legislative session in 2019.

"I want them to know I'm not gonna shut up, I want this bill passed," Pyle said. 

Article Comments

Huntsville
Broken Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 73°
Florence
Broken Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 73°
Fayetteville
Overcast
72° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 72°
Decatur
Broken Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 72°
Scottsboro
Broken Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 73°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

 

Community Events