INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A well-known national massage chain is now the latest public entity facing accusations of sexual assault.
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.
With 24 Massage Envy locations in Indiana, we wanted to know what laws and regulations are on the books in the state to protect customers.
Dainah Craft and her husband have been in the massage business for about 15 years. They're now owners of the Indiana Massage College. The school is responsible for training and educating future massage therapists. The news of sexual assaults against Massage Envy was alarming.
"Disappointment. That's not something that we would ever want to see associated with our industry. Those of us that are professional massage therapists hold to a very high standard of ethics," Craft said.
In Indiana, massage therapists go through fingerprinting, a criminal background check, and a new law requires they have a license. The previous requirement was just a certificate. But Craft says ethics is taught in the classroom.
"And that includes what's appropriate or inappropriate to happen in a massage session from your speech, what you do or do not talk about, how you dress, appropriate touch," Craft said.
Danielle Dick reported a massage envy employee touched her two years ago in Richmond, Virginia. She talked to our sister station there earlier this month.
"At first you think, 'well that was a little odd, did his hand just slip?'" Dick said.
She said she knew she couldn't keep quiet.
"At the very end of the assault, he leaned over and said our little secret, OK? And that was the point at which I knew, I'm going to report this, I have to report this," Dick said.
She says she was told the massage would be free and she could cancel her membership without a penalty. And they wouldn't call police because the matter would be handled internally.
Massage Envy sent us this statement today:
“Massage envy’s policies require that, when there is an allegation of inappropriate conduct, franchisees must immediately remove the therapist from the schedule and report the incident to massage envy franchising. The franchisee must also conduct a prompt, fair, and thorough investigation of the allegation, with the assistance of outside experts if needed.”
If assaults are reported to police and action is taken it would be on a massage therapist's license record and other spas even in another state would see that on a background check. The man in Danielle’s case in Virginia is in jail, serving a 5-year sentence convicted of sexual battery and forcible object, sexual penetration. She started an online petition to get the company to issue tougher policies.
There are currently no known reports in Indiana.