PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Women across the country are speaking out after they say they were sexually assaulted by therapists at a popular massage chain.
BuzzFeed says it found more than 180 reports of sexual misconduct at various Massage Envy locations.
Many of the victims say the company’s response to the allegations was insulting. Some women say they were offered a refund or told not to file a police report.
“When this happened to me, I thought it was an isolated thing. I thought it was one sick man. He pulled the blanket down to my ankle, pulled my underwear down to my knees, could see everything I had and then massaged my butt with his hands,” said victim Kandice Martellaro.
Last month, a Richmond, Virginia woman, who says she was assaulted, started a Change.org petition calling on the company to support individuals allegedly sexually assaulted at their stores.
Another victim, who lives in Chester County, shared her story with CBS3.
“I was really in a state of shock, disbelief, fear,” said Susan Ingram.
She was a regular customer at a West Goshen Town Center Massage Envy location in West Chester.
On her seventh visit in 2015, she says therapist James Deiter began rubbing his groin against her.
“He lifted up my body, groped both of my breasts roughly and aggressively. Put his hands down to the lower part of my body,” Ingram said.
Too disturbed to report the assault immediately, she called the manager after she got home.
“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.'”
After Ingram filed a formal police report, Deiter pleaded guilty to sexually molesting a total of nine female clients and is now behind bars.
Citing court records, BuzzFeed says, “…two of those women had tried to warn the spa about Deiter before Ingram had.
The West Chester District Attorney’s Office says there have been no other sexual assault allegations at this location.
“Each of these incidents is heartbreaking for us and for the franchisees that operate massage envy locations, and we will never stop looking for ways to help our franchisees provide a safe environment,” said Massage Envy in a statement.