The Secret Epidemic of Sexual Assault at One of the Country's Most Popular Spas
An investigative report by BuzzFeed News found that more than 180 women have accused massage therapists at Massage Envy franchise locations of sexual assault. Some of the allegations include nonconsensual digital penetration, nonconsensual vaginal licking and groping.
BuzzFeed uncovered a pattern of inept responses from poorly trained Massage Envy spa managers and routine failure to address the allegations in any meaningful way.
Massage Envy does not require its locations to report assaults to police. The company cited the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network in leaving the decision to report assaults to the authorities up to assault survivors. RAINN, which has no connection to Massage Envy, told BuzzFeed that Massage Envy was misrepresenting its position.
Corporate policies reported by BuzzFeed were oriented toward crisis management.
Melanie Hansen, general counsel of Massage Envy Franchising, said, “As a franchisor of a service brand, we are not experts in investigating criminal acts” and said the organization advises spas “to secure expert help as needed to investigate incidents.” This guidance did not appear in training materials reviewed by BuzzFeed.
Last year, Rep. Pat Meehan (D-PA) introduced bipartisan legislation requiring spa employees to report sexual assault allegations to police.
Eight women have filed a suit against a Massage Envy spa for its handling of sexual assault. The case is scheduled to go to trial in January.