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100+ accuse Massage Envy therapists of assault, according to BuzzFeed report

Posted at 6:03 AM, Nov 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-27 21:24:09-05

More than one hundred women have accused massage therapists at Massage Envy of sexual assault, according to BuzzFeed.

"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."

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

Several victims say when they reported their sexual assault to management nothing happened and police were never notified.

According to court filings and public statements, Massage Envy maintains it is not liable for sexual assaults that happen at franchise locations. 

ABC15 has been reporting on incidents at Valley locations over the past few years. 

Massage Envy's corporate office released the following statement to ABC15: 

"Each of these incidents is heartbreaking for us and for the franchisees that operate Massage Envy locations, and we will never stop looking for ways to help our franchisees provide a safe environment at Massage Envy franchise locations. The article references 180 reported incidents. These occurred over a span of 15 plus years and 125 million massages. But, we believe that even ONE incident is too many, so we are constantly listening, learning, and evaluating how we can continue to strengthen our policies with respect to handling of these issues.”

The Arizona State Board of Massage Therapy licenses therapists and disciplines them. The agency urges victims to fill out an online complaint form, in addition to contacting police or the offender's employer.

"We can take action sooner, maybe even revoke the license to continue practicing, suspend for some time while the case is pending civilly or criminally," the Board's Executive Director Ryan Edmonson said.

Massage Envy told ABC15 franchise owners are required to report allegations of therapist misconduct to headquarters and immediately remove the accused therapist from the schedule. Failure to do so could lead Massage Envy to terminate the location's franchise agreement, a company spokesperson said.

"Zero tolerance is not enough," said Sara Powell, a Valley attorney who represents two women suing Massage Envy therapists for improper touching. "The question is not how Massage Envy responds after an incident happens, but rather what are they proactively doing to keep the client safe."