What’s the Problem?
At least 180 people have filed complaints in the form of sexual assault civil lawsuits, police reports, or objections to state boards against Massage Envy, according to a Buzzfeed News investigation.
The report says that in addition to the 180 alleged victims, many more have been offered settlements to keep their cases out of court. Katie J.M. Baker, the investigative writer who authored the report, pointed out that the vast majority of sexual assault victims never file a complaint.
Massage Envy does not require franchisees to notify police in the event of a sexual assault complaint, except where specified by local law. The company does, however, require internal investigations into the incidents, but provides little guidance on how to go about them, according to BuzzFeed.
Founded in 2002, Massage Envy has franchises in all 50 U.S. states except Wyoming. The company claims to have over 35,000 "dedicated wellness professionals" whose core values include striving "to earn and to keep the trust of those we serve by delivering exceptional service" to its more than 1.5 million members and guests.
Massage Envy responded to the complaints with the word "heartbreaking," saying they occurred over 15 years and some 125 million massages.
"We believe that even one incident is too many," the company said in a statement to USA TODAY. "We are constantly listening, learning and evaluating how we can continue to strengthen our policies with respect to handling of these issues."
Massage Envy Employee in Connecticut Arrested for Sexual Assault
An employee at a Massage Envy in Fairfield, Connecticut, has been arrested after allegedly assaulting one of his clients, according to NBC Connecticut. The victim alleged that 22-year-old Terron Zaire Moorer exposed his genitals and made contact with the victim with his genitals. Moorer has admitted to the accusations and is free after posting a $500 bond.
3rd Woman Alleges Sexual Assault from Massage Envy Therapist in Minnesota
A third client of a massage therapist at a Massage Envy spa in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, has accused him of sexually assaulting her.
Mitchell Le Dac Ho was charged Monday in Hennepin County District Court with third degree criminal sexual conduct in the alleged incident at the Massage Envy in the Windsor Plaza mall near Flying Cloud Drive on Jan. 1, 2016.
Ho, who was terminated from Massage Envy last September, is due in court on April 26. His attorney from a prior case said Tuesday she was unaware of the latest charge against her client, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
The third woman filed charges early last month, claiming that Ho touched her genitals and squeezed her breast, according to the complaint. Another woman told police in March 2016 that he assaulted while giving her a massage, according to a complaint filed in late December 2017.
Ho was still employed at the Eden Prairie Massage Envy last September when he assaulted a girl, according to the complaint. The first 2 cases are still pending.
Another Massage Envy masseur, John Earl Young II, was charged in 2013 with molesting a client at a Minnetonka franchise during June of that year. The following month he landed a job at a Bloomington store when he sexually assaulted another client. He was convicted in both cases.
Massage Envy Masseur Pleads Guilty to Sexual Assault
A former Massage Envy therapist pleaded guilty to the first-degree sexual assault of 3 women, and faces a maximum of 5 years in prison for his crimes.
The defendant in the case, Habtamu Gebreselassie of Silver Spring, Maryland, faces many rough days ahead, to say the least. The penalty for his crimes -- first-degree sexual assault, attempted first-degree sexual assault and misdemeanor sexual abuse -- carry a maximum of up to 5 years in prison.
To date, Gebreselassie has been linked to at least 4 reports of sexual misconduct at 3 different massage parlors -- 2 of which were Massage Envy spas -- in Maryland and Washington, D.C.
One woman said Gebreselassie touched her inappropriately at a Massage Envy in Bowie, Maryland, on June 20. She said management offered her a free spa day and told her he had been transferred to a location out of state.
Then a 66-year-old woman came forward with allegations that Gebreselassie assaulted her at a Massage Envy in Tenleytown, Washington, D.C., on Aug. 28.
"I've never done this before,” she told police. “I don't know what got into me.”
Tara Woodley claims that Gebreselassie assaulted her just 3 weeks later. Woodley said she was getting a massage at the Tenleytown spa on September 17 when her masseur removed the sheet covering her pelvis and put his mouth on her genitals.
She said she pulled the sheet back up to cover herself and ordered him to leave.
On his knees, he begged for forgiveness, Woodley said.
She said she went outside and called her husband. He told her to call 911,which she did and police arrived promptly after that.
Florida Woman Alleges Sexual Assault from Massage Envy Employee
A woman who says she was abused by a Massage Envy therapist in Coral Gables, Florida, has filed a civil lawsuit against the franchise's owner in Miami-Dade circuit court.
The complaint charges First World Financial Corp. with negligence in hiring and business practices which allowed the alleged March 12 sexual assault by masseur David Egusquiza to take place.
Plaintiff alleges that Egusquiza put at least one finger in her vagina during the massage and, when she objected, kissed her on the forehead, said he was sorry and asked her not to tell anyone.
Egusquiza was charged with sexual battery and felony battery, and subsequently pleaded guilty to felony battery. He was sentenced to 5 years probation.
The alleged abuse took place at the Massage Envy located at 256 Miracle Mile in Coral Gables, Florida, a city in Miami.
Plaintiff is seeking compensation for her “injury and expense, including but not limited to, psychological and emotional injuries, mental anguish, and the loss of the enjoyment of life.”
4 New Sexual Assault Lawsuits Filed Against Massage Envy in Chicago
Four women from Illinois have filed lawsuits against Massage Envy franchises in Chicago, claiming they were assaulted by the company’s masseurs.
Lawsuits have been filed against at least 4 different Illinois Massage Envy franchises, according to the Chicago Tribune. Those locations include the Massage Envy in Chicago, Naperville, Elmhurst, and Tinley Park, the Times said.
A Chicago woman filed suit against the Tinley Park Massage Envy over an August 2016 incident in which she claims her masseur groped her “breasts and vaginal area under the guise of providing her with massage therapy.”
After the session, the woman claims the man met her outside the room and asked her if she was uncomfortable or felt violated, in so doing “made several admissions to suggest that he knew his behavior was not welcome,” the complaint states.
Claims against Massage Envy by nearly 200 women were brought to light as part of a BuzzFeed News investigation published Sunday. All of the complaints include similar allegations that the company’s massage therapists sexually assaulted patrons at their franchises across the U.S.
Many of the lawsuits contain additional allegations that Massage Envy mishandled or ignored their complaints, according to the Times.
Do I Have a Massage Envy Sexual Assault Lawsuit?
The Sexual Abuse Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in Massage Envy lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new cases in all 50 states.
Again, if you were harmed during a professional massage, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.