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28 November 2017, 01:03 | Erma Lawrence
In many cases women who complained to Massage Envy management about an alleged assault said they were stonewalled
An investigation by Buzzfeed News found more than 180 women have accused therapists at Massage Envy of groping and other sexual acts.
The story alleges at least 180 women have filed sexual assault civil suits, police reports or complaints to state boards against the company, its franchisees or employees.
Many victims say the company's response was insulting. But although Massage Envy provides training and sets operational standards, it argues that since each franchise is independently operated, the parent company shouldn't be liable in such cases.
Massage Envy released a statement stating in part "Each of these incidents are heartbreaking for us and for the franchisees that operate Massage Envy locations".
"Ingram lay there, frozen in fear and disbelief, until the session was over", the report said. She says she was sexually assaulted while getting a complimentary massage.
Ingram called police and Deiter didn't deny the accusations, eventually pleading guilty to molesting nine women.
She says it happened while she was making minimum wage, working as a receptionist at a Massage Envy in Glendale, California, and getting a complimentary massage. Some locations continue to keep abusers on staff, while others have quietly fired accused therapists without reporting them to police, allowing them to move on in their careers without repercussions. "She was shocked when the manager refused to interrupt the session Deiter was having with a female client, Ingram said, or to connect Ingram with the spa's owner".
"Massage Envy is a partner in crime", Ingram told Buzzfeed.
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. "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".
Adam Horowitz, a lawyer who has worked on two dozen cases against Massage Envy, said the actual number of assaults is likely considerably higher.
The Post reported at the time that the company said its franchises are required to complete extensive background and reference checks and enforce a zero-tolerance policy.
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