Massage Envy Mishandled Its Customers and Now Faces 180 Sexual Assault Accusations

The massage chain has more than 1,000 locations across the country.

"It is imperative that the company, in all approximately 1,200 locations, implement proper screening, training, and supervision of its employees and contractors", said Wayne Cohen, one of the victim's lawyers.

In one complaint, former customer Susan Ingram said she was assaulted in 2015 by a male masseur named James Deiter, who inserted his fingers in her vagina and pushed his erection against her body while she lay "frozen in fear".

Therapists at a nationwide massage chain are facing almost 200 allegations of sexual assault. The chain and its franchises have largely ignored or mishandled the complaints, according to claims against the company.

"She said in a very apparently scripted response, 'We invite you in to talk about your services.' And I said, 'No, no, no you don't understand, '" Ingram said.

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ABC News also reported that another woman is suing for more than $2 million after she says a massage therapist grabbed her head and put his hands over her mouth and assaulted her.

Several other women also came forward to speak about similar encounters they allegedly had during spa and massage sessions at Massage Envy outlets. Citing court records, BuzzFeed says, "two of those women had tried to warn the spa about Deiter before Ingram had". BuzzFeed News reports that when authorities went to speak with Deiter later that day, he confessed to not only assaulting her but nine other women, explaining he needed help.

Massage Envy is now reviewing their policies, USA Today reported. They released a statement Sunday saying the incidents described in the report were "heartbreaking for us and for the franchisees that operate Massage Envy locations".

Melanie Hansen, general counsel of Massage Envy Franchising, said, "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".

BuzzFeed said in its report that the company doesn't obligate franchisees to report every allegation to police, except when local law requires it, and offers little guidance in conducting an investigation.

  • Adam Floyd