A popular national chain of spas has been accused by more than 180 women of sexual assault, according to a new report.
Female customers at Massage Envy — which runs more than 1,200 spas across the country — have accused massage therapists of groping and penetrating them on the massage table, BuzzFeed reported, citing lawsuits, police reports and other complaints.
In many cases, women who complained to Massage Envy management about an alleged assault said they were stonewalled. In general, the company does not require its franchises to notify law enforcement when an allegation of sexual assault is made, according to the report.
In one egregious case, Susan Ingram, of West Chester, Penn., said she was sexually assaulted in May 2015 by a massage therapist, James Deiter. An hour after the assault, she called the Massage Envy location where it occurred. The manager, Nicole, who answered the phone declined to interrupt Deiter’s ongoing massage of another client.
In many cases, women who complained to Massage Envy management about an alleged assault said they were stonewalled.
“I begged her to stop the massage and get him away from the woman,” Ingram said in court documents. “She said she could not do that, and she invited in to talk about my services…I said to her, ‘Nicole,’ he stuck his fingers in my vagina less than an hour ago.’”
Ingram called cops and Deiter fessed up, 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.