Business owner allegedly sexually assaulted woman during phony medical study
A Connecticut business owner was arrested and accused of sexually assaulting a woman during what he claimed was part of a medical study, and state police are investigating whether other women were victimized.
Brian Casella, 35, of Bethel is charged with one count of fourth-degree sexual assault, according to Connecticut State Police.
According to the arrest warrant affidavit, a woman contacted state police in August asking for advice regarding a situation she encountered with Casella, who has been identified as the owner of Brookfield-based Vivid Events — which provides DJ, lighting and other services for weddings and similar events.
State police consulted with the Danbury State’s Attorney’s Office and began investigating the complaint, which the woman said involved Casella allegedly offering her extra money to take part in what he said was a medical study in which he was contracted by a third-party company. The woman said Casella made her fill out about 30 pages of paperwork, which included signing something that said she could not “go after” his company for any reason, according to the affidavit.
Casella purported to be studying the woman’s food sensitivity. At first, Casella allegedly had the victim roll her shirt up and lie on the floor of the Vivid Events office while he put a microphone and a stethoscope to her stomach to listen to her digestive system, the affidavit said. Casella would also allegedly touch her abdomen and always had a camera set up on a tripod, the victim told state police.
The cash payments for each session ranged from $100 to $500, according to the victim.
Casella at first allegedly used a stethoscope before getting permission from the woman to place his ear against her abdomen, saying he could hear better that way, the affidavit said. As the sessions continued, he would allegedly lift her clothing on his own to access certain areas of her body, according to the affidavit.
Casella allegedly later asked the woman if she wanted to take part in a bigger study that would have a higher payout and she agreed, the affidavit said. Casella allegedly asked her to take two sleeping pills for this purported study, though she told state police she only took one, according to the affidavit. Casella asked the woman to “stay exposed” during the new tests but agreed to allow her to partially cover her breasts, the affidavit said.
The woman told police she pretended to be asleep for what felt like hours, during which Casella allegedly turned off the lights and took photos of her using a polaroid camera, the affidavit said. During subsequent fake tests, the woman said she refused to take a sleeping pill and, at some point, Casella allegedly began using electric patches on her similar to what a physical therapist would use, according to the affidavit. During more than one session, Casella allegedly had the woman agree to be zip-tied because he said the purported company that had contracted him would know if there were movement, as he told her she was supposed to be sleeping for the tests, the affidavit said.
During the sessions, the woman told state police, Casella would place tape over the security cameras in the building. He eventually began conducting the sessions in an office that was subdivided from the Vivid Events area in the same building, he victim alleged, and started using what she described as sonogram equipment and would rub jelly on the woman, the affidavit said.
On one occasion, the woman told state police she was completely exposed with the exception of her underwear for what Casella allegedly called a “more intricate test,” according to the affidavit.
The victim alleged that Casella became more intrusive during their last two sessions, the affidavit said. During one session, Casella, while wiping jelly off of the woman, allegedly touched her vaginal area, according to the affidavit. The woman told state police she asked to stop the sessions shortly thereafter in a text message to Casella.
During the investigation, state police consulted with a medical expert who reported that no such legitimate company would pay someone without any medical experience to conduct a study like the one that was described.
State police also had the victim meet Casella in September and speak to him about the testing while investigators monitored the conversation from nearby, according to the affidavit.
On Sept. 14, authorities executed a search warrant at Vivid Events and at Casella’s home, seizing a number of items, most of which were reportedly found in a locked attic in Vivid Events, which included an ultrasound machine, an electrical stimulation machine and other items that reportedly corroborated the victim’s account of what had happened, the affidavit said.
Casella allegedly agreed to speak with state police and admitted that he has previously lied to people about conducting fake medical exams to satisfy what he described as an “abdominal fetish,” the affidavit said. Casella allegedly said he has previously listed ads on Craigslist advertising medical studies, according to the affidavit.
State police reportedly seized a hard drive with over 1,000 photos and videos on it. When asked how many victims they would find, Casella allegedly told police “a lot,” according to the affidavit.
Casella posted a $10,000 bond and is expected to be arraigned in Danbury Superior Court on Nov. 29.
State police on Friday said they are asking anyone who may have been victimized by Casella to come forward.
Anyone who believes they are a victim, can contact Det. Barbero at (860) 904-0493.
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