National massage chain Massage Envy is now the latest public entity facing accusations of sexual assault.
More than 180 female customers of Massage Envy have accused male massage therapists of groping and penetrating them while on the massage table, BuzzFeed reported, citing lawsuits, police reports, and other complaints.
Several of the female accusers have issued complaints to management of Massage Envy - which operates more than 1,200 spas across the country - about the alleged assault that they have experienced. The company does not require its franchises to inform police when accusations of sexual misconduct are made against the company, according to the report.
One alleged incident involves customer Susan Ingram, of West Chester, Penn., who said she was sexually assaulted in May 2015 by massage therapist James Deiter. After leaving the spa, she called the Massage Envy location where it occurred to inform them of what had happened. The manager, Nicole, who answered the phone allegedly chose to not intervene in Deiter’s ongoing massage of another client after taking the complaint.
Ingram called police and Deiter didn't deny the accusations, eventually pleading guilty to molesting nine women.
“We hold franchise owners accountable to our policies and, when we say nothing is more important to us than treating clients with respect and giving them a safe, professional experience, we mean it,” Massage Envy told BuzzFeed in a statement.
Mom sexually assaulted during Henrico massage
Last month, professor Danielle Dick went public with her Massage Envy story.
She recounted the moment things went wrong at the Massage Envy location in Willow Lawn.
“At first you think, well that was a little odd, did his hand just slip?” she said.
Danielle said, that at the time, she felt violated, but afraid and confused.
“It takes a while for your brain to catch up and realize, oh no, this is what is going on,” she said.
Danielle said she was torn about how to handle the situation. Then, came her moment of clarity.
“At the very end of the assault, he leaned over and said, ‘Our little secret, okay?’ And that was the point at which I knew, I’m going to report this, I have to report this,” she recalled.
Danielle did report the assault and her masseuse was later convicted of sexual battery and forcible object, sexual penetration. He was sentenced to five years in prison.