Over the past 15 years, Massage Envy has given more than 125 million massages, gaining a reputation as one of the most well-known massage parlor chains around.
However, it turns out a number of those massages have crossed the line, and now 180 women are coming out with accusations stating they were sexually assaulted while under the parlor's care.
A Sunday article from BuzzFeed News reports the largest massage franchise in the country is facing a number of lawsuits, citing police reports and firsthand interviews with victims.
One of those victims is Susan Ingram, who found herself being groped at her local Massage Envy in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Ingram visited the massage parlor with massage therapist James Deiter multiple times without ever facing any issues. However, her last time was one she'll never forget.
Upon their seventh meeting, Ingram had felt relaxed enough with Deiter that she could close her eyes and let all her stressors be worked out, although it was here that Deiter proceeded to aggressively grope her breasts, rub his erect phallus against her body, and stick his fingers into her privates.
Ingram told CBS News:
“I was really in a state of shock, disbelief, fear.”
“He lifted up my body, groped both of my breasts roughly and aggressively. Put his hands down to the lower part of my body.”
Following the assault, Ingram told CBS News she felt too stunned to report the incident to the police, but she did call the store's manager, where she received no help:
“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.”
According to BuzzFeed News, Ingram said she was informed Deiter was with another client when she called and begged for the Massage Envy employee to intervene, but she refused:
“I said to her, 'Nicole, he stuck his fingers in my vagina less than an hour ago.'”
Nothing was done, according to Ingram:
“She said she could not do that, and she invited me in to talk about my services.”
Eventually, Ingram did call the police. 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.
Court records have since shown that two women tried to warn the parlor about Deiter's behavior but that no action was ever taken.
Since the damning allegations broke, the company has released a number of statements:
“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.”
They also said:
"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.
It should be something that they should train for and have an understanding of how to respond."
Prior to Ingram's civil lawsuit, Massage Envy never had to respond to a customer in court concerning allegations of sexual assault.
As more information comes in about the lawsuits, Independent Journal Review will keep you posted.