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Valley woman wants Massage Envy to make changes after her assault

Posted at 7:25 PM, Dec 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-01 23:39:28-05

Scottsdale-based Massage Envy's CEO said he plans to release a comprehensive plan next week to better protect clients from sexual assaults in treatment rooms.

The announcement comes just days after a BuzzFeed national investigation found 180 claims that Massage Envy therapists had engaged in inappropriate sexual touching of clients.

Three years ago, Beth Fox was sexually assaulted in a Massage Envy treatment room. 

The east Valley mom told police, prosecutors, state regulators, and a judge, but this is the first time she's agreed to tell her story on TV.

"He moved to my side, and he took the sheet off of me and put his mouth on my body," Fox said.  "At that point, I jerked the sheet back up, and I'm like, 'What are you doing?'"

Fox stopped the massage and went to police. 

DNA collected during a forensic exam matched her masseur, Gabriel Lopez. He worked at the location near Elliot and Kyrene roads in Tempe. ABC15's call to request a comment from the store's managers this week was not returned. 

Lopez was criminally charged and made a plea deal. He does not have to register as a sex offender, but Fox fought to get his massage license revoked. She explained why she also filed a lawsuit against the Massage Envy franchise owner.

"So they change their policies," Fox said. "I was the one who had to call the police; I was the one who had to call the state massage board. They did none of those things."

Fox said the managers did talk to Lopez and sent him home, but "I question if I had not reported anything [to the police] would he still be working? Would he still be assaulting other people?"

The combined voices of so many women going public now appears to be making a difference.

In a letter Thursday, Massage Envy's CEO wrote he is deeply sorry to those who suffered. 

This week the company said it began third-party background checks to rescreen all 20-thousand licensed massage therapists. Every franchise location also had to review and recommit to safety and reporting policies. 

The CEO promised more comprehensive changes to be announced next week.