More than 150 women report sex assault incidents at Massage Envy spas

Updated: Nov. 27, 2017 at 8:30 AM EST
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CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Approximately 180 people have come forward accusing massage therapists of sexual assault at Massage Envy spas across the country.

The investigative report from Buzzfeed News highlights how the nation's largest massage spa chain trains the massage therapists and how the company is handling the disturbing allegations.

In one recent incident, a woman says that her massage therapist removed the sheet that was covering her and engaged in oral sexual activity during the session in Washington, D.C. The victim has filed a $25 million lawsuit against the company.

"It is imperative that the company, in all approximately 1,200 locations, implement proper screening, training, and supervision of its employees and contractors," said Wayne Cohen, one of the victim's lawyers.

Most of the victims allege that the company offered a refund or were told not to file a police report when they came forward, but many felt their claims were ignored or mishandled.

Former Massage Envy employees court filings say that the company isn't liable for sexual assaults because of the franchising agreements, but attorneys for the victims argue that the company trains the employees and establishes operational policies.

Kate Hardy, a former Massage Envy employee told Buzzfeed News that the company's policy "is not in place to protect the client. It's in place to protect the company."

A statement from Massage Envy provided to CBS Los Angeles states:

"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."

In Northeast Ohio, there are at least eight Massage Envy locations, including stores in Beachwood, Westlake, Avon, and Strongsville.

Click here to read the complete report from Buzzfeed News.

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