Following 180 sexual assault accusations from customers, Massage Envy, a large national franchise, is being sued again — this time by six women who claim they were touched or penetrated during appointments and that the company failed to protect them.
According to a story published Wednesday by the East Bay Times, the lawsuit was filed Monday in San Mateo County in the San Francisco Bay area by six women who visited various spa locations throughout California.
According to the lawsuit, Massage Envy is being sued for negligence, premises liability, intentional infliction of emotional distress, sexual battery, gender violence, and fraud, among other charges. The suit also claims that Massage Envy does not require its franchisees to report sexual assault accusations to law enforcement or the state board and that it concealed accusations, an “incomprehensible” policy, in order to “protect the brand.”
Another complaint is that accused therapists remained employed or were simply transferred to other locations, only to continue assaulting new victims, and that the company neglected to warn customers about the potential for abuse.
For example, a Burlingame former employee named Brandon Davis was allowed to continue working at Massage Envy despite two complaints against him. One of his alleged victims, referred to as Jane Doe #1, says that in November, Davis forcibly assaulted her while she “played dead,” then raped her. The victim says she reported the incident to a Massage Envy manager who ultimately said that her and Davis’s stories “did not match up” and he would not be terminated.
According to Bay Area paper the Daily Journal, the victim then reported the incident to the Burlingame Police Department, which discovered 12 other allegations from customers. The 28-year-old suspect is now detained in San Mateo County jail on $250,000 bail, per the East Bay Times.
The new lawsuit details graphic acts by Massage Envy employees, one of whom, James Mock, allegedly sexually assaulted a woman all over her body, then said, “Thank you for sharing your energy with me” before ending the session. A few months later in 2016, the victim reported the crime to the California Massage Therapy Council, which revoked Mock’s license.
Attorneys at Thompson Law Offices in Burlingame and Laffey, Bucci & Kent in Philadelphia (which filed the lawsuit), did not return Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment, however, Bobby Thompson of the former firm told the East Bay Times, “This is happening everywhere. This company is more concerned about its brand than it is about customer safety.”
Thompson added of Jane Doe #1, “Our client was raped by him. We know that Brandon Davis had been accused of improper acts prior to (her) being assaulted. These things will continue to happen until the company is honest with the public about this problem and giving consumers fair warning before they come in, undress, and get naked in a room with a complete stranger.”
A spokesperson for Massage Envy did not return Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment, yet said in a statement to the East Bay Times, “While we aren’t able to comment on active litigation, we can tell you that we remain focused on our Commitment to Safety plan, which is further strengthening our existing policies. Safety is and will always be our priority and we will never stop working on it.”
The company website also stated it has partnered with the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) on best practices to prevent sexual assault and that “Massage Envy franchisees and their managers nationwide completed a new, required Safety Training, which included cutting-edge information on the psychology of sexual misconduct and trauma-informed investigations.”
Last year, BuzzFeed published a bombshell investigation detailing allegations from 180 women that they were sexually assaulted at various Massage Envy locations. One victim told ABC News, “The day changed my life forever. I was just totally traumatized with sadness, pain, sobbing.”
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