Massage Envy is one of the largest chain of massage franchises in the US, touting a reputation of professionalism, but BuzzFeed said its investigation brought to light dozens of sexual assault lawsuits, complaints and police reports against the national business.
BuzzFeed reports that the women have filed lawsuits, police reports and state board complaints against Massage Envy.
In December 2016, our Madison sister station WKOW-TV reported that a 22-year-old woman accused 33-year-old Christopher Ehrett of sexually assaulting her during a session at a Massage Envy in Fitchburg.
"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. A California woman said she opened her eyes during a prenatal massage to find her masseuse with his mouth on her breast.
"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.
There is one Massage Envy location in the Quad Cities metro area, on Elmore Avenue in Davenport.
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.
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.
In a statement released to ABC, Massage Envy said it was "heartbroken" over every incident and that one incident is too many. "We are constantly listening, learning and looking at how we can do more, including how we support franchised locations with best practices in handling these incidents and supporting their clients".
"Massage Envy told BuzzFeed News that it would not be "appropriate to respond point-by-point" to questions "because of pending litigation" and the confidential documents involved".
Several victims say when they reported their sexual assault to management nothing happened and police were never notified.
In Deiter's case, two women tried to warn the franchise about inappropriate behavior before Ingram was assaulted, BuzzFeed reports.