A man has been charged after a woman said he assaulted her at a tanning salon and another said she saw him trying to watch her tan.
Joshua Ray, 39, of 111 Morgan Trace and 1002 W. Main St. in Valdese (address of Solar Rays), was charged with misdemeanor sexual battery and secret peeping for incidents that occurred at Solar Rays, according to arrest warrants obtained from the Burke County Courthouse. Solar Rays is located in the former Lightning Video & Tan along U.S. 70 in Valdese.
The charges came after a woman went to tan Wednesday and said she discovered Ray peeping over a wall at her.
As she was getting dressed, she said she saw his head in the mirror slowly come up over the wall and look over before finally making eye contact with her in the mirror.
She said he dropped down at that point and she stayed in the room for a few minutes trying to decide what to do.
“I finally was like, ‘no, I’m going to address this,’ and when I got out there I could not find him, he was nowhere,” she said. “Then all of a sudden I just got like this ... really panicked feeling, like I need to get out of here.”
When she got home, she said she sat still in disbelief before calling a friend who encouraged her to report the incident. She debated whether she should make a social media post about it, but ultimately decided she would because she felt like others needed to know what happened.
That post encouraged another woman to speak up. She told the newspaper she went to tan at the business on April 30 with her sister, but Ray told them they would have to park in the parking lot of the ABC Store and come in the back door because the business had been warned it and its customers would be fined for violating the governor’s stay-at-home order.
Her sister left, but she stayed. As she was tanning, the woman said she decided to leave early, and as she was leaving the business, Ray sexually assaulted her three separate times.
She said the last time he assaulted her, he told her this was her payment.
“While he was doing that, he was like ‘well you know I let you come in here and lay whenever you’re really not supposed to be here, I think I should get some kind of payment for it,’” she said. “And I was like, ‘well, that’s what my tanning package is for. I’m not interested in giving you any other kind of payment.’”
When she was able to leave the business and got home, she said she contacted a friend in law enforcement. The friend told her not to go back, and that Ray used to be in law enforcement and that it would be her word against his.
The News Herald confirmed by public records request that Ray was a sheriff’s deputy in Burke County from Feb. 25, 2004, to Jan. 1, 2007, when he resigned from the position. There were no suspensions or demotions for disciplinary reasons available at the time of the request, according to information from the county.
When the woman from Wednesday’s alleged incident made the social media post, the second woman said she wished she had said something about her incident earlier.
“I saw that post and I thought to myself, ‘God, I feel so awful,’” the sexual battery victim said. “Because if I would’ve said something, I could’ve prevented it for somebody else, probably, and I felt like I needed to speak up.”
Another reason she spoke up was to show her daughters that it’s okay to speak up when someone goes through something traumatic.
“Now I want to show her hey, like, it’s not just you, I mean this happens to me, too, and there’s things you can do,” she said. “You can speak up. You don’t have to feel weird and uncomfortable. I wanted to do that for my kids, that’s the main thing, to show them you don’t put up with certain things. It’s not okay.”
The News Herald reached out to Solar Rays for comment, but a woman who answered the phone at the business declined. The newspaper also called the phone number listed for Ray on his arrest report, but the call went unanswered.
Ray’s bond for sexual battery was set at $5,000 secured, and his bond for secret peeping into an occupied room was set at $3,000 secured, court officials told The News Herald. He has a court date set for Aug. 19, according to his warrants for arrest.
Valdese Police Chief Jack Moss encouraged any other victims to reach out to his department at 828-879-2100.
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