SAN ANTONIO – UPDATE -- This story now includes a statement from the Army & Air Force Exchange Service
When LeDerick McDaniel was accused of sexually assaulting two female service members on post at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston in June 2018, he had already been on the radar of state licensing investigators for nearly five months.
McDaniel, at the time of the alleged assaults, was working as a massage therapist for a civilian-run business called The Spa at Fort Sam, inside Fort Sam’s historic commissary building.
Just a month earlier, in May 2018, McDaniel had admitted to an investigator with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation that he was performing massage therapy services without a license.
His ability to continue working as a massage therapist and to get hired on a heavily guarded military post has raised questions about the vetting process for civilian-run businesses at Fort Sam Houston.
WARNING: THE CONTENT BELOW INCLUDES GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT
In a civil lawsuit filed in 2020 against McDaniel, the spa and the spa’s owner —Horace “Trey” Wilkins— by a woman identified as “Jane Doe,” she said she arrived for a scheduled massage around 10 a.m. on June 10, 2018.
McDaniel lowered the panties of the woman, an active-duty member of the U.S. Army, during the massage, according to allegations contained in Department of Justice files obtained by KSAT Investigates.
McDaniel then rubbed her genitalia and inserted his finger into it, before licking her private area, the records state.
The woman, who later told FBI investigators she “froze” during the encounter, whispered for McDaniel to “please stop” but did not believe McDaniel heard her, the DOJ records state.
McDaniel, according to the records, later told the woman “she should get his telephone number because he felt like he left her hanging.”
After paying for the massage and leaving the establishment, the woman reported the incident to her on-duty supervisor.
The woman then went through a sexual assault examination at a San Antonio area hospital nine hours after the alleged incident, records show.
The FBI assumed full investigative responsibility over the case on June 11, 2018.
McDaniel, when questioned by the FBI that day, denied the allegations and told an agent “he had nothing to hide,” DOJ records state.
On June 12, 2018 text messages between McDaniel and Wilkins, the spa’s owner, McDaniel tried to shift blame to Jane Doe, writing that “she actually tried to kiss me and put my hand on her” genitalia.
“I f***ed up,” “I tried to blow it over,” “Didn’t want to make it a big issue just wanted to forget about it,” wrote McDaniel in separate text messages, when asked by Wilkins why he had not immediately told his boss about the incident.
Wilkins, who did not respond to multiple messages seeking comment for this story, fired McDaniel a few days later, DOJ records show.
A friend of Jane Doe, who accompanied her to the spa to get a manicure, told investigators Jane Doe exited the massage room looking disheveled and upset.
An analysis of Jane Doe’s sexual assault examination released by the state crime lab in December 2018 found the presence of male DNA on her left buttocks and anus. No further testing was done to see if the DNA matched McDaniel, however.
In early February 2019, about eight months after the incident, the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined the case for prosecution.
“While the touching is most inappropriate, it is not a prosecutable federal offense,” wrote the assistant U.S. attorney overseeing the case.
She noted that even though the woman whispered that she wanted it to stop, the alleged victim believed McDaniel had not heard her.
“It is an essential element that the defendant knew the touching was without permission and proceeded anyway. Second, in order to prove a sexual act or sexual contact, the act must have been done with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person. There is no evidence as to why this touching took place,” the attorney wrote.
Officials with the San Antonio office of the FBI and the DOJ declined to comment for this story.
Second accuser comes forward
A second female service member, identified in Bexar County court records as “Jane Doe 2,” has accused McDaniel of sexually assaulting her during an afternoon massage session on the same day as the first Jane Doe.
In the second incident, McDaniel is accused of rubbing the woman’s inner thighs and genitalia without warning, a lawsuit filed in early 2021 states.
“Terrified, Plaintiff stopped the massage. McDaniel then asked if he could ‘finish her off,’” according to the lawsuit.
Although Jane Doe 2 reported the alleged sexual assault to both the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command and to the United States Army J.A.G. Corps Special Victim Counsel, she did so under “restricted” status, meaning no subsequent criminal investigation took place.
“There is a longstanding history of the military not being held accountable for sexual assaults that take place under its watch,” said Rose Carmen Goldberg, a veterans law lecturer at the University of California School of Law.
Goldberg said even though Jane Doe 2 filed her complaint under restricted status, she is still eligible to receive specialized support services, such as mental health counseling.
Goldberg questioned the vetting done by Fort Sam before the now-shuttered spa was allowed to open on post.
“The military is a unique employer, but nonetheless it is an employer and military is a workplace,” said Goldberg, who added that all employers need to take necessary steps to ensure employees have the proper training and credentials.
Information on legal and other support services for military sexual assault survivors can be found here.
Attorneys representing Wilkins and the spa did not respond to emails and calls seeking comment for this story.
KSAT could find no record, besides the lawsuits, of him being implicated in any professional misconduct in connection with the alleged assaults.
The spa was given a nearly $61,000 Paycheck Protection Program loan in May 2020, which was later forgiven, records show.
The spa is no longer in operation.
The lawsuit filed by the first Jane Doe was settled out of court.
Jane Doe 2′s lawsuit is ongoing. It is tentatively scheduled to go to trial in mid-January, Bexar County court records show.
She is seeking between $200,000 and $1,000,000 in damages, court records state.
TDLR fines McDaniel
In February 2019, following a 13-month civil investigation of McDaniel, TDLR officials fined him $2,500 for performing massage therapy sessions without a license.
McDaniel has not paid the fine, a TDLR spokeswoman confirmed earlier this year.
A public affairs official for the 502nd Air Base Wing said via email it would be “inappropriate” to speculate or comment.
He referred an inquiry about the vetting that went into the spa being allowed to operate on post to a public relations manager with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service.
That manager said via email late last month he had reached out for answers but did not provide an official response to KSAT before the story was published.
The manager released the following statement Nov. 16, three days after the story’s publication:
“The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (Exchange) follows a comprehensive process before entering into a contract with a concessionaire to operate a business on a military installation. This process includes checking the Excluded Parties List of the System for Award Management (SAM.gov) as well as checking internal Exchange systems that track performance issues. The business is confirmed to be in good standing with applicable state and local authorities. The concessionaire’s employees must meet all installation access requirements including background checks. If the concessionaire is providing a service which requires certain employees to have a license or certification, such license or certification must be obtained and a current copy available on site. The contract for The Spa at Fort Sam Houston was awarded to Blue Hills Spa after all normal processes were followed. It was awarded in January 2017 to an incumbent concessionaire who had previously performed without incident and was terminated by the concessionaire in October 2020. Contractors/concessionaires and their employees are not employees of the Exchange. Responsibility for verification of licensing and status of employees lies with the employer contractor.”
In an unrelated incident in January 2019, San Antonio police investigators said McDaniel damaged the door of a man’s vehicle during a child exchange dispute.
A warrant was issued for McDaniel’s arrest in late November of that year for misdemeanor criminal mischief, court records show.
The charge was dismissed last month after McDaniel paid full restitution in the case, court officials confirmed.
KSAT Investigates was unable to track down McDaniel for comment for this story.
It appears he no longer lives in San Antonio.