Over 180 women claim sex assault at U.S. massage chain

In many cases women who complained to Massage Envy management about an alleged assault said they were stonewalled

Still, lawyers for aggrieved spa clients told BuzzFeed News that there are more cases where women report abuse by massage therapists to police but no arrest is made, and that Massage Envy spas sometimes offer a settlement before a suit is filed, leaving no public record.

A chain of massage spas with nearly 1,200 locations across the nation is facing hundreds of sexual assault complaints amid concerns that it ignored or mishandled the allegations.

There are more than 1,100 total Massage Envy locations serving over 1.5 million members.

Susan Ingram says her masseur turned into a sexual predator during her seventh visit with him at another Massage Envy location in 2015.

Massage Envy's corporate headquarters called the allegations "heartbreaking" and said, "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".

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Ingram called police and Deiter didn't deny the accusations, eventually pleading guilty to molesting nine women.

Massage Envy is now reviewing their policies, USA Today reported. She was shocked when the manager refused to interrupt the session Deiter was having with a female client, Ingram said, or to connect Ingram with the spa's owner. More than 180 women have filed claims, ranging from inappropriate touching, groping, and kissing, to forced digital and oral penetration.

Several of the accusers reportedly also complained to the management of the spa chain that operates more than 1,200 spas across the country about the alleged assaults. The chain and its franchises have largely ignored or mishandled the complaints, according to claims against the company. Two women reported sexual assault incidents at a Sacramento franchise, the only Northern California location cited in the investigation.

"It's very alarming, very alarming, people are very vulnerable when they go in for a massage", said Leslie Lombino of Somerville, Massachusetts. We reached out to the franchise where Ingram said she was assaulted, but they declined to comment. Even if a client calls to report a rape, Massage Envy is not required to contact law enforcement. "They had every opportunity, on multiple occasions, to remove [Deiter] from his position, and they chose not to".

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