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28 November 2017, 01:06 | Lowell Little
The popular massage chain Massage Envy is facing allegations of more than 100 sexual assaults at franchise locations according to reports
More than 180 women have filed lawsuits and police complaints against Massage Envy and its employees, alleging they were molested, groped, and even sexually assaulted during their massage sessions, according to the BuzzFeed News.
Therapists at a nationwide massage chain are facing almost 200 allegations of sexual assault.
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". These occurred over a span of 15 plus years and 125 million massages.
Massage Envy has over 1,200 locations nationwide with alleged sexual assault in many different locations.
Massage Envy - which has more than 1,100 franchises in 49 states, according to its website - dubbed the reported incidents "heartbreaking" in a company statement obtained by AFP. After driving home sobbing, she called the spa to report the sexual assault. When she called the Massage Envy location to report the incident the manager refused to interrupt the current session Deiter was having with a client or to connect Ingram with the owner. "She said she could not do that, and she invited me in to talk about my services", Ingram added. "I felt broken.", Ingram said in an interview that aired Monday on The Today Show.
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Deiter was sentenced up to 13 years for assaulting Ingram and eight other women, Yahoo Lifestylereported.
According to BuzzFeed, Massage Envy only requires franchises to conduct internal investigations of abuse claims except in the few states that require notification of local law enforcement. The latest entity to be accused is Massage Envy, a large spa franchise with almost 1,200 locations across the country.
"Massage Envy is a partner in crime", Ingram said.
Franchise owners are given little guidance in this regard, BuzzFeed claims, with the exception of a training video called "Behind Closed Doors", which advises therapists to address their guest's concerns "in a safe and secure environment in order to retain them as a valued client and avoid negative attention".
Attorney Adam Horowitz, who has represented several accusers against Massage Envy, said it is company-wide problem. "It's why 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". We reached out to the franchise where Ingram said she was assaulted, but they declined to comment.
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