More than 180 women allege sexual assaults at Massage Envy spas

Massage Envy Times Square pop-up. Image via AP

Still, lawyers for aggrieved spa clients told BuzzFeed News that there are more cases where women report abuse by massage therapists to police but no arrest is made, and that Massage Envy spas sometimes offer a settlement before a suit is filed, leaving no public record.

"BuzzFeed News found that more than 180 people have filed sexual assault lawsuits, police reports, and state board complaints against Massage Envy spas, their employees, and the national company".

In one case, Susan Ingram described how massage therapist James Deiter at Massage Envy in West Chester, Pennsylvania, sexually assaulted her in 2015.

The therapist she claimed assaulted her is now in prison after pleading guilty to assaulting nine women while employed by Massage Envy, the ABC News story said.

Ingram's account was one of many that highlighted the company's problematic neglect, even though the company claims to have "worked hard to create the industry's most stringent, rigorous policies" for hiring, screening, and training therapists.

Former Massage Envy employees court filings say that the company isn't liable for sexual assaults because of the franchising agreements, but attorneys for the victims argue that the company trains the employees and establishes operational policies.

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.

Too disturbed to report the assault immediately, she called the manager after she got home. "I was following the policy of Massage Envy and therefore I thought it was appropriate", the owner said according to BuzzFeed.

Dozens of women reported digital and oral penetration. You can read the full investigative report here.

"I said to her, 'Nicole, he stuck his fingers in my vagina less than an hour ago, '" Ingram later testified in court. Two women reported sexual assault incidents at a Sacramento franchise, the only Northern California location cited in the investigation.

The manager also told Ingram to come back to the massage center to discuss the session, however, the victim informed the police who then interviewed Deiter, prompting him to confess his crime. "They had every opportunity, on multiple occasions, to remove [Deiter] from his position, and they chose not to".

"These claims represent only a sliver of the tens of millions of services Massage Envy says its franchises have provided".

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