Inappropriate contact. Harassment. Sexual assault. From Hollywood to Capitol Hill, new allegations are surfacing nearly every day. But it's not just powerful men being accused. Contact 13 explains why a mega massage corporation is now back in the spotlight.
With over 1000 locations, Massage Envy is the largest company of its kind in the country. Nearly four years ago, Contact 13 first investigated therapists allegedly assaulting vulnerable clients. Now, there's a nationwide push to see the corporation held accountable.
Just one week ago, the latest lawsuit in Las Vegas was filed against Massage Envy and therapist Aaron Sachs. Sachs is also facing criminal charges of sexual assault and lewdness stemming from a March incident at Massage Envy on West Flamingo. It's a scenario that's been playing out nationwide for years.
"It obviously unfolded in just an incredibly frightening and horrifying way and it wasn't until he had his hand on my throat and pulled my head up by my hair and covered my mouth and assaulted me that I even realized I was in a dangerous position," says Danielle Dick. She was assaulted in a Richmond, Virginia Massage Envy in 2015.
"I was so shocked with the way the company handled it," says Danielle. "Particularly knowing that it was something that had happened multiple times before."
Indeed, Massage Envy knew about the problem as Contact 13 reported in 2014.
"If you merely do a search of only these three words: massage-envy-assault, your computer screen's gonna light up like a slot machine," attorney Cameron Spradling told us.
Now, ABC News and Buzzfeed say at least 180 victims have reported some type of alleged assault or inappropriate touching at Massage Envy.
In Danielle's case, she says Massage Envy insisted on handling things internally, but she took it to police and the therapist was convicted of felony sexual assault.
Massage Envy declined to go on camera with us, but issued this statement:
Each of these incidents is heartbreaking for us and for the franchisees that operate Massage Envy locations, and we will never stop looking for ways to help our franchisees provide a safe environment at Massage Envy franchise locations. The article references 180 reported incidents. These occurred over a span of 15 plus years and 125 million massages. But, we believe that even ONE incident is too many, so we are constantly listening, learning, and evaluating how we can continue to strengthen our policies with respect to handling of these issues.
"Well, there have been hundreds of incidents and they're not actually doing anything about it," says Danielle. "And that's what ultimately led me to come forward with my story so that we could raise awareness."
There have been 17 "Inappropriate Touch" complaints filed with the Nevada Board of Massage Therapy in the last two years. Four of those have involved Massage Envy. Two are still under investigation and two were closed--one due to insufficient evidence and the other, the person who received the massage, refused to provide testimony or have her name released to us.