Massage Envy facing allegations of sexual assault by clients

More than 180 people have reported being sexually assaulted at Massage Envy spas around the country according to a Buzz Feed News investigation

More than 180 female customers of Massage Envy have accused male massage therapists of groping and penetrating them while on the massage table, BuzzFeed reported, citing lawsuits, police reports, and other complaints.

Danielle Dick, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, shared her story this morning on the ABC's "Good Morning America" and NBC's "Today" show about a sexual assault at a Massage Envy Spa in Henrico County.

One victim, Susan Ingram, is suing Massage Envy, and says that she had seen Deiter several times before he assaulted her.

Lawyers representing spa clients told BuzzFeed that the reported cases represent only a fraction of the incidents occurring, saying in some instances clients report sexual assault but no arrests are made, and in other cases Massage Envy has offered settlements before suits can be filed.

In a statement on Sunday, Massage Envy called the allegations "heartbreaking for us and for the franchisees that operate Massage Envy locations".

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Over the past 15 years, Massage Envy has given over 125 million massages, gaining a reputation as one of the most well-known massage parlors around.

"She said in a very apparently scripted response, 'We invite you in to talk about your services.' And I said no, no, no you don't understand, '" said Ingram.

But the lawyers representing numerous victims told BuzzFeed News that there are more cases where women reported abuse by massage therapists to police but no arrests were made.

"My friend told me because she knew I had a massage here".

"Massage Envy is a partner in crime", Ingram adds.

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According to the report, the chain told Buzzfeed it would not be "appropriate to respond point-by-point" to questions "because of pending litigation" and the confidential documents involved. "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".

"Ingram lay there, frozen in fear and disbelief, until the session was over", the report said.

Before Ingram's phone call, Massage Envy received two similar accusations against Deiter and did nothing about them. Why?

"Most women never report sexual misconduct", he said.

The exposé also included an agreement requiring franchisees to purchase insurance "that protects them and the national company against at least three sexual assault claims per year".

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