CRIME

Police: Md. tattoo artist sexually assaulted teen client in private design studio

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DAMASCUS, Md. (WJLA) - A local tattoo artist is accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old client while inking her body.

Mark Matthews is accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl., (WJLA)

Investigators say Mark Matthews, 35, of Damascus, sexually assaulted the teenager with his hands in his private studio at the Damascus Tattoo Company.

Management says it immediately fired Matthews when it heard about the allegations. However, ABC 7 News has learned the artist is now employed by another local parlor—Black Dragon Tattoo in Urbana.

"I don't want to do any of this ... There is no story," said Matthews, who added that the felony charge against him was "one big misunderstanding."

According to charging documents filed in Montgomery County District Court, the 19-year-old hired Matthews to tattoo her inner right thigh. Despite wearing bathing suit bottoms to conceal her private areas, police say Matthews sexually groped the teen's privates for 20 to 30 minutes.

The victim told detectives she didn't scream or fight back because, "She feared Matthews could permanently damage her skin and tattoo, or harm her with the needle which was inserted in her skin."

"Ugh, just shock," remarked tattoo artist Jon Roberts, who was working in an adjacent studio on the day of the alleged attack. "I remember the girl. I can't imagine anything inappropriate happening in the time that she was here, but you know you got to take everything seriously."

Matthews, who has a criminal record for drug possession and theft, has hired a Rockville defense attorney, Phil Armstrong. Calls to Armstrong's office were not returned.

"Mark is a very talented artist. He's a fun-loving individual, very easy-going, light-hearted. I liked Mark, but, once again ,we can't let things like this go unchecked," Roberts added.

While no additional victims have come forward, police would like to hear from any additional clients who feel they were inappropriately touched by Matthews.

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