Massage Envy facing allegations of sexual assault at numerous locations

Dozens accuse massage therapists at large franchise of sexual misconduct

But overall, Melanie Hansen, general counsel of Massage Envy Franchising, said the company has worked hard to create the industry's "most stringent, rigorous policies" for hiring, screening, and training therapists.

"It terrified me. I froze up", said Martellaro.

One customer here in Northwest Florida says she's shocked by the allegations.

She said that because she waited to call police, there was no DNA evidence to support her rape claim, and police advised her that prosecutors would not file criminal charges against the massage therapist. "She said she could not do that, and she invited me in to talk about my services", Ingram added.

More than 180 women have reported being sexually assaulted when they were customers of Massage Envy, the largest chain of massage spas in the United States, according to a BuzzFeed News investigation. She says it started when James Deiter began rubbing his groin against her. "He lifted me up from underneath, aggressively handled my breasts and proceeded to penetrate me with his fingers". "Put his hands down to the lower part of my body", said Ingram. "But I think that for some women it's even worse to go and report what happened to you and not have it taken seriously".

Horowitz said there is no typical predator as they range from new therapists to experienced.

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Too disturbed to report the assault immediately, she called the manager after she got home.

Massage Envy in a statement referred to the incidents described in the report as "heartbreaking" but said that it isn't liable for assaults taking place at the spas because the individual locations are franchises, meaning there are now no protections in place for customers. According to local NBC affiliate WFML, Deiter has since received prison time after pleading guilty to molesting nine women during massages. One woman reported that her therapist inserted his entire fist into her vagina before ejaculating on to her face.

"I think there needs to be a serious audit of the company and protocol has to be immensely changed", said Martellaro.

Massage Envy told 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.

As for Ingram, she is suing Massage Envy and taking other steps to make sure spa companies do the right thing. They have not returned our request for comment.

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