Massage franchise Massage Envy, which counts more than 1.6 million members and 1,170 locations across the country, is facing allegations that 180 women were sexually assaulted at some of its spas, reported Buzzfeed News.
BuzzFeed reported Sunday that more than 180 women have filed police reports, complaints to state boards and lawsuits in civil court over the years against Massage Envy, a franchise that claims almost 1,200 locations across 49 states, including locations in the Columbia Tech Center in Vancouver and Hazel Dell Towne Center, along with three locations in Portland.
In 2014, two other women said they too were sexually assaulted by different therapists at the same location. Since news of Harvey Weinstein's alleged predatory behavior, women across industries have been coming forward with stories of harassment and assault - taking down powerful men and powerful companies in the process.
Massage Envy told BuzzFeed.com it has a zero-tolerance policy against sexual harassment and that is has terminated franchise agreements with more than 20 spas because the Arizona-based company's policies have been violated.
In a statement, Massage Envy said, in part, "Each of these incidents are heartbreaking for us and for the franchisees that operate Massage Envy locations".
The news outlet said massage providers in most states are not legally mandated to report client allegations of sexual assault made in their facilities.More news: Rep. John Conyers Steps Aside From Leadership Role Amid Investigation
"It was shocking to see the scope of these allegations across the nation", Chester County DA Tom Hogan said.
Ingram says she went home traumatized, then called the spa manager to report what happened. "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.
None of the reported allegations involve any Massage Envy stores in North Texas. "I was following the policy of Massage Envy and therefore I thought it was appropriate", the owner said according to BuzzFeed. Instead, franchise owners are given vague instructions to conduct their own investigation.
Massage Envy does not require any of its locations to take steps to prevent or investigate sexual assault (except in a few states where local laws require it by law). "Call the police. I didn't do that, and that is probably the only regret I'll have in life". "It's why we are constantly listening, learning and looking at how we can do more", the company said.
"Massage Envy told BuzzFeed News that it would not be "appropriate to respond point-by-point" to questions "because of pending litigation" and the confidential documents involved".
Until this year, the state board only had the authority to regulate individuals, not businesses.