PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Nearly 200 women are claiming they were sexually assaulted in the largest spa franchise in the country.
There are over 1,100 Massage Envy locations across the country, and some are under scrutiny because of allegations that massage therapists groped and performed other sexual acts on their customers.
A Massage Envy location in West Chester, Pa., outside Philadelphia, was the site of criminal conduct.
“He lifted up my body, groped both of my breasts roughly and aggressively, put his hands down to the lower part of my body,” recalls Susan Ingram, who was victimized by her masseur in 2015.
She says she called the manager that same day but was not taken seriously.
“She said in a very apparently scripted response, ‘We invite you in to talk about your services.’ I said, no, no, you don’t understand,” says Ingram.
After Ingram filed a report with local police, the masseur pled guilty to sexually molesting nine female clients and is now in jail.
BuzzFeed News, which broke the story, says more than 180 women have accused their therapists of similar conduct.
KDKA reached out to several local Massage Envy spas, but none would talk on camera.
In a statement, Massage Envy’s corporate office noted that the 180 allegations “occurred over a span of 15 plus years and 125 million massages, but, we believe that even one incident is too many.”
An employee at a local Massage Envy was accused of rape in 2008. Casey Hardin worked at the location in Cranberry. He pleaded guilty to a felony count of aggravated assault and served 7 months in the Beaver County Jail.
In Pennsylvania, massage therapists are licensed but that’s no guarantee that every message therapist does thing by the book.
Katy Perrin of Squirrel Hill has been going to Message Envy in Squirrel Hill for ten years, she told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Monday.
Delano: “Have you found everything above board?”
Perrin: “Absolutely. I love coming here. I come here once a month for massage and facial.”
Massage Envy says you can always request a masseur of your own gender.
And if you want to check out the therapist first, the state maintains a disciplinary record of every licensed massage therapist.
Information about the Board of Massage Therapy, including regulations, can be found online: www.dos.pa.gov/ProfessionalLicensing/BoardsCommissions/MassageTherapy/Pages/default.aspx
A professional licensing database can be found here: www.pals.pa.gov