Women Come Forward In Droves To Accuse Massage Workers Of Sexual Assault

Oscar Cross
November 28, 2017

The latest entity to be accused is Massage Envy, a large spa franchise with almost 1,200 locations across the country.

More than 180 people have allegedly been sexually assaulted by Massage Envy massage therapists and the franchise did little to assist the victims, a report published by BuzzFeed alleges.

Women have reported being groped and digitally penetrated. Buzzfeed shed light on more alleged assaults at Massage Envy locations.

Massage Envy - which has more than 1,100 franchises in 49 states, according to its website - dubbed the reported incidents "heartbreaking" in a company statement obtained by AFP.

Massage Envy's more than 20,000 massage therapists provide 50,000 massages a day, 1.5 million a month and 18 million a year, according to the company.

Many victims say the company's response was insulting. The report cites that Deiter pleaded guilty to sexually molesting nine women while working at Massage Envy from fall 2014 to spring 2015.

In Deiter's case, two women tried to warn the franchise about inappropriate behavior before Ingram was assaulted, BuzzFeed reports.

As it turned out, two of his other victims had also reported their respective assaults, but the company took no actions because both women, just like Ingram, had made the allegations over the phone while the "official" Massage Envy policy dictates the company can not to do anything until the customers personally came in to report assault. Regardless, Ingram noted that the spa had "enthusiastically recommended" him as a massage therapist.

"I wanted to thank you again for being among the first to start raising awareness about this issue", she said in an email this morning to The Times-Dispatch. "That's why we will never stop reinforcing to our franchisees the importance of a safe environment". Still, it said even one incident is too many, reports CBS News' Meg Oliver.

The company declined to comment on specific points made by BuzzFeed, but Melanie Hansen, general counsel of Massage Envy Franchising, said the company has "stringent, rigorous policies" for hiring, screening and training massage therapists.

Adam Horowitz, a lawyer who has worked on over twenty cases against Massage Envy, told NBC News that likely the number is higher than 180.

"They don't mandate that all their franchises report incidents of sexual assault to law enforcement", Horowitz said.

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