Massage Envy Sexual Assaults Nationwide Prompt Litigation

When you get a massage, you expect a relaxing and healing experience. But above all, you expect to have a safe experience. But the expectation of safety is not always a reality at Massage Envy spas across the country, according to numerous emerging complaints and lawsuits.

Hundreds of women say they were sexually assaulted by their massage therapists at Massage Envy locations nationwide. In multiple cases, women say they reported the assaults to Massage Envy, but the franchise and national corporation responded with inaction. Now many survivors are bringing lawsuits against Massage Envy and the massage therapists who allegedly assaulted them.

Sexual Assaults at Massage Envy Spas Nationwide: A Timeline

  • 2013: A south Florida woman sued Massage Envy after her massage therapist sexually assaulted her. However, she alleged that after she filed the lawsuit, Massage Envy’s lawyers blamed her for the sexual assault and said she was the one who behaved negligently. Massage Envy’s lawyers said: “The plaintiff conducted herself in a careless and negligent manner, and said negligence is a contributing and/or sole legal proximate cause of the injuries.” The lawyers further commented in October 2013 that the plaintiff “expressly or impliedly assumed a risk of injury which was well known and appreciated by her.”
  • 2015: Susan Ingram was sexually assaulted by her massage therapist at a Massage Envy in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Immediately after being assaulted, Susan called the manager, reported the assault, and tried to convince the manager to get the massage therapist out of his next session so that he would not assault others. However, the manager refused to pull the massage therapist out of the massage session because Susan reported the assault over the phone and not in person. Susan then went to the police who interviewed the massage therapist. The masseuse pled guilty to sexually assaulting 9 women at Massage Envy from 2014 to 2015. It was later revealed that two clients before Susan’s assault had warned the spa about the massage therapist, but the spa refused to act on their allegations because the clients also made the allegations over the phone instead of in person. Susan said: “Massage Envy is a partner in crime. They had every opportunity, on multiple occasions, to remove him from his position, and they chose not to do it.”
  • October 2015: Danielle Dick was assaulted at a Massage Envy spa in Virginia by her massage therapist. She reported the assault to the desk manager and the manager said the company did not have to call the police because the franchise would handle the matter internally. The next day, the spa employee called Danielle and said that she understood that Danielle was “unhappy with the massage experience” and so they would not charge her for it. Danielle said, “Then they went back to business as usual, and my entire life was turned over.” She reported the massage therapist to the police, and he was later convicted of felony sexual battery. However, Massage Envy still refers to the incident as an ‘alleged assault.’
  • January 2016: A Massage Envy client wanted to report that her massage therapist had assaulted her during a session at a Massage Envy spa in Sacramento, California. She said that she couldn’t figure out how to call the corporate office and so she sent an email to Massage Envy’s guest relations email stating that she had been violated. She did not hear back for several days and so she filed a complaint with the California Massage Therapy Council. However, the massage therapist who assaulted the woman continued working at the Massage Envy and assaulted another client. Despite the two reports, the Massage Envy regional manager did not contact the assault victim for weeks and continued to charge her membership fees for two months despite the former client’s requests to terminate the membership.
  • September 2017: Tara Woodley was assaulted at a Massage Envy in Washington, DC. After reporting the incident, Tara discovered that two other women had reported being assaulted by the same therapist at a Massage Envy spa in Maryland operated by the same owner as the Massage Envy in DC where Tara had been assaulted. The massage therapist had just been transferred to the Massage Envy in DC.
  • November 2017: Buzzfeed News reported that there were over 180 instances of sexual assault lawsuits, police reports, and state licensing complaints against Massage Envy’s spas, their employees, and their franchisees. Buzzfeed reported that Massage Envy instructs spa owners to conduct their own inquiries into misconduct claims; however, the corporation did not provide guidance about how to conduct the inquiries and does not require the spas to contact police or state regulatory boards unless local laws require it. Some spas kept massage therapists as employees even after multiple misconduct complaints or transferred the massage therapist to another location. Massage Envy has even argued in the past that as a corporation that sells franchise agreements rather than being an employee of individual massage therapists, it cannot control the day-to-day operations and the spas and should not be legally responsible in the clients’ sexual assault lawsuits.
  • August 2019: A Virginia woman was sexually assaulted at a Massage Envy spa. After the assault, she raced out of the spa and spoke to no one immediately after the incident. However, she soon confided in her sister who took her to the Henrico Police Department and then to the hospital for a forensic exam. The massage therapist was later charged with aggravated sexual battery.
  • December 2019: Two women reported being sexually assaulted by the same massage therapist at a Massage Envy spa in Old Town Chicago. The Chicago Police Department was notified of both incidents.

Corporate Massage Envy’s Response

After BuzzFeed News broke its investigation, Massage Envy promised to create better instructions for how its franchise locations should respond to reports of sexual assault. However, the plan only requires Massage Envy employees to provide clients with contact information for local law enforcement. The franchisees are not required to take action against their massage therapists.

In court filings and public statements, Massage Envy corporate said it’s not liable for sexual assaults that occur at the franchise spas due to the franchise agreements because the individual spas control the day-to-day operations.

Litigations Against Massage Envy

Lawsuits are already adding up against Massage Envy. In one lawsuit filed with the San Mateo County Superior Court, it argued that the corporation ignored complaints against and the questionable histories of five therapists working at one location. Instead of looking into the building complaints, the company set them aside and allowed all five therapists to keep working there with little supervision and no correction.

In a separate lawsuit, the plaintiff alleges that Massage Envy intentionally tried to hide information it had about the dangers of sexual assault many of its customers faced. The lawsuit claims the company told franchisees to discourage clients from filing sexual assault reports, either with local law enforcement or state licensing boards.

How GoldenbergLaw Can Help You

If you or a loved one was sexually assaulted at a Massage Envy franchise, please contact our team at GoldenbergLaw immediately. Our team of Minnesota attorneys has more than 35 years of experience providing the Gold standard of advocacy for our clients. We have the knowledge and compassion to help you with your case. Call (800) 504-0281 to ask for a FREE consultation.

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