"I've never been so scared of somebody:" Photographer accused of sexually assaulting two women
SHEBOYGAN (WITI) -- A Milwaukee-area photographer is in trouble for allegedly sexually assaulting two women -- one a model he took photos of. It's a case that serves as a warning for people who are looking for a professional photographer. How do you know who's really behind the lens?
"Mr. Marquez had found me on Facebook. He had a studio of sorts in his basement. Next thing I know...I tried to squirm away and get away from him. He only proceeded to tighten his grip around me. I tried to get away from him and told him 'no, to stop,'" a victim told FOX6 News.
But she says he didn't stop. In a flash, it was over.
"I didn`t know what to do. I had never been in a situation like that before in my life," the victim said.
It's a situation that's all too familiar for Cataldo. She says she was attacked by the same man a year before.
"I`ve never been so scared of somebody," Amanda Cataldo said.
Just like the first woman, she met him on Facebook. After a night of partying and drinking with friends, he ended up back at her apartment and wouldn't leave.
"We didn`t want somebody driving home like that, so for his safety we were like 'okay what harm can he do? He`s on the couch,'" Cataldo said.
But the next morning, when she woke up, it was a different story.
"I got up and ran so fast and ran out of my room into my friend`s room and I just started crying so hard," Cataldo said.
She says his hands were down her pants and her shirt was unbuttoned. The whole time, she was sound asleep.
"I just couldn`t believe that it happened like that. It`s like why would you just walk in somebody`s room, you know?" Cataldo said.
To this day, that question remains unanswered.
Tony Marquez, owner of Paramour Photography and Retouching is facing charges of fourth degree sexual assault in Sheboygan.
In the meantime, he's still taking photos, and ironically, dodging FOX6 cameras.
Other area photographers, some who want to be kept anonymous, say they're compelled to speak out, fearing local models won't know what they're signing up for when they agree to work with Marquez.
"We don`t want anybody out there who`s using the guise of professionalism to treat photography as a dating service or possibly, as in this case, worse," an area photographer, who wished to remain anonymous, said.
"A big concern is the health and welfare of these young gals that go to him for photographs. You`re very vulnerable when you`re sitting for a photographer. Right now we only have two cases pending. You know, nationally -- over 60% aren`t reported. So I wonder how many more are out there?" professional photographer Skip Meucci said.
In some cities, professional photographers are required to have a license. Sheboygan doesn't require one, but Milwaukee does, and Paramour Photography doesn't have one.
"Models should always, always check references. I think a lot of people are just so excited that some photographer is going to take their picture that they just run and jump," Meucci said.
Marquez, whose website says he strives to capture the beauty he sees in people, denies ever inappropriately touching this model -- telling police he didn't find her attractive. When he spent the night at Amanda Cataldo's home, he claims the sexual activity was consensual, even though in Facebook messages after the fact, he apologizes for being "so drunk."
"I`m not gonna let him scare me because, you know, he shouldn`t have done that. He had no right, you know? I`m not going to let somebody get away with that," Cataldo said.
The first time Marquez got in trouble for sexual assault, prosecutors agreed to change the charge from fourth degree sexual assault to disorderly conduct as long as he stayed out of trouble for a year. Because new allegations came to light earlier this year, both cases are now pending.
A plea hearing is scheduled for later this month.