Now THIS is Sexual Harassment!

A Helpful Workplace Hint: If your boss suggests that you should let him hynotize you, RUN!!!!

In Pittsburgh, a woman has sued the nonprofit Pressley Ridge Foundation and its CEO for sexual assault, fraud and other charges, claiming former Foundation exec B. Scott Finnell forced her to submit to hypnosis as part of her duties as a Human Resources coordinator.  While she was under hypnosis, he stroked her breasts and “repeatedly brought her to orgasm.” She says that Finnell purported to treat her for “stress” with a “relaxation technique,” which was in fact hypnosis. The amateur Svengali insisted that the “relaxation sessions” (cough!) were because he was making a relaxation compact disk for the Pressley Ridge Wellness Program, and thus assisting in the sessions were appropriately part of her duties as a member of the Pressley Ridge Human Resources Department. Finnell also instructed her not to tell anyone about the ‘relaxation sessions.”

Yes, this should have been a warning sign. That, and the fact that her male boss wanted to hypnotize her.

The complaint states that the hypnosis sessions occurred regularly over the course of approximately a year, always behind closed doors in Finnell’s office, on what Finnell referred to as his “magic couch.”

Yes, this also should have been a warning sign. When your supervisor asks you to lie down on his “magic couch,” there is reason to be concerned.

 While the woman was hypnotized, Finnell stroked her breasts, and repeatedly brought her to orgasm, utilizing the hypnotic suggestion that he would slowly count to five, and when he reached five, she would experience a rush of pleasure. It worked. He also repeatedly told her that she was very attractive, and requested that she accompany him to his house during the lunch hour when his wife was out.

She wisely declined the invitation, but  this also should have tipped her off that the sessions were not motivated by the need to make a compact disk. That, and the fact that he kept bringing her to orgasm.

The victim says that that after each hypnosis session, she could not recall what has happened. She did notice once, however, that the cardigan she had been wearing when she entered Finnell’s office was now on her arm, or on other occasions that the manner in which her clothes had been buttoned had changed. She also noticed that her underpants always seemed to be very damp

Yes, warning signs. Big, flashing, hard to ignore warning signs.

Then, one day, the memories can rushing back. She remembered the “count-down to orgasm” sequence and also:

  •      Being on the floor with her head between Finnel’s legs;
  •       Finnell saying: ‘I’m touching you, but you’re so relaxed, you’re so deeply asleep, you don’t even feel it’
  •      The sound of a camera, suggesting that the session may have been photographed.

 She says she confided in a co-worker, and discovered that several of the female employees had also been hypnotized. When Finnell learned that she now remembered what had happened under hypnosis, he  barred her from meetings, prohibited from speaking to anyone in upper management, stripped of her duties as Human Resources Coordinator, and demoted to a lesser position. When the woman brought this to the attention of Pressley Ridge’s Board of Directors, she alleges, the board not only dismissed her complaints, but ignored them. She filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC on June 2, 2010, and Pressley Ridge fired her two days later.


Was the victim here remarkably gullible, submissive, and slow on the uptake? It would seem so. But women who are gullible, submissive, and slow on the uptake are the perfect targets for sexual predators in the workplace. The fact that many women would have been suspicious from the moment the boss started suggesting that hypnosis or anything that resembled it was part of her job responsibilities does not excuse the CEO’s behavior  one bit, nor should it diminish the enormity of his misconduct. Victims are often careless, overly trusting, reckless, afraid of confrontation and, in restrospect, appear to have the common sense deficit of  drunks who wander into tiger enclosures at the zoo, with the predictable yummy result. It doesn’t matter. An employee should not have to be alert to sexual predators in the workplace. A place of business should not employ them or tolerate them, and is 100% responsible for the damage one of them does if he ends up in a position of authority, or in any job at all. That is fair. The Foundation board in this case is accountable, even if Finnell hypnotized them during his job interview.

I wouldn’t put it past him.

8 thoughts on “Now THIS is Sexual Harassment!

  1. You are so funny, Jack!

    But, seriously, I find this story hard to believe, based on my knowledge of hypnosis (my father, a dentist, used to practice on me) and my own experience with hypnotizing willing subjects. If this story is factual, then this guy is in the ranks of the world’s greatest hypnotists.

  2. Not that it discredits your argument in any way, but I’m having a tough time believing this story. It’s just so outlandish, and I’m too skeptical of hypnotism to believe that this could really happen.

      • I worked under Scott Finnell in the early 1990’s at the Methodist Children’s Home in Waco, TX. I will never forget the day a female coworker in her early 20’s, who also worked under Finnell, came to me and said that he had molested her in his office. At the time, I found the accusation so bizarre, I literally had no response. All these years later, it finally makes sense.

  3. “Now repeated after me. My boss is my Master. I will obey him in all things. I’m so HOT for him!!!”

    Actually- while this story DOES strain the bounds of credulity- it does bring up one aspect; the power of post-hypnotic suggestion. It’s said that one under hypnosis cannot be made to do something against one’s will. But there’s a lot of leeway in this. It was somewhat established that this woman wasn’t exactly Miss Ironbritches! Nor did she possess the intellect of Madame Curie! That’s a “dream subject” for a good hypnotist with no moral scruples whatsoever.

    If this guy did what is claimed, he ought to be thrown into the middle of a luau hosted by Dykes on Bikes.

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