In response to a BuzzFeed News investigation that revealed more than 180 women nationwide have reported sexual assaults at popular spa chain Massage Envy, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed subpoenas to investigate incidents within the state.
The report details numerous instances in which women inform Massage Envy staff that their male massage therapist sexually assaulted them, and management focuses more on preserving the company’s image than ensuring that the women’s complaints are heard by the proper authorities.
A woman reported a male masseur at Massage Envy repeatedly touched her inappropriately and against her will during an appointment in September 2014 at the chain’s Elmhurst location, 191 S. Route 83.
A Plainfield woman filed a lawsuit in January 2015 regarding an incident that occurred in May 2013, in which a massage therapist at Massage Envy’s Naperville-South location, 2775 Showplace Drive, Suite 107, groped her breasts during a massage, according to a criminal complaint originally filed in a Cook County Circuit Court.
Court documents from the woman’s 20-count suit reveal that the male therapist cupped the woman’s breast underneath a covering, then said, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be doing that.”
Before she left, the man again apologized and said, “Sorry about all that.”
The woman’s husband levied a complaint with the spa later that day.
BuzzFeed found that many claims about Massage Envy locations were mishandled, and the company’s policies and procedures for reporting and addressing sexual assault allegations were vague or unclear.
In a motion to dismiss the complaint, Massage Envy and the masseuse said that the man only acted “after defendant asked plaintiff if she wanted her pectoral muscles massaged.”
Madigan’s office is investigating Massage Envy and its Illinois franchisees at certain locations in Chicago, Elmhurst, Naperville and Tinley Park to gather information about the company’s policies, employee training and handling of complaints related to sexual assault and sexually inappropriate behavior, according to a news release from Madigan’s office.
The spa chain has 49 locations in Illinois, according to its website.
“I appreciate the women who have reported the sexual assaults they experienced during their massages,” Madigan said. “I issued subpoenas to Massage Envy because the public has a right to know what Massage Envy’s policies are and what steps the company takes to prevent and address sexual assaults.”
Massage Envy CEO Joe Magnacca released a statement in response to the allegations Thursday, in which he said, “I, like so many of you, continue to be sickened and so disheartened by the stories that have recently been published about sexual misconduct at Massage Envy franchise locations. We have zero tolerance for this type of behavior, and to those who suffered, I am deeply sorry.”
The letter went on to say that the chain wanted to talk directly to victims and victim rights groups, industry associations and sexual violence experts to help define a plan that would be shared early next week. Massage Envy franchising also required its locations to “review and recommit” to the company’s safety and reporting policies, as well as evaluate hired massage therapists.
“Let me be clear: this is just the start, and these first steps are not the complete answer. We are taking a hard look at ourselves and at the additional changes we must make,” Magnacca said in the statement. “We will never stop working to earn your trust.”
Madigan’s investigation into the chain’s sexual assault policies comes as women across the country are coming forward to report instances of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Below are some of the company’s suburban Chicago locations.
• Algonquin, 790 B S. Randall Road
• Darien, 2445 75th St., Unit E
• Elmhurst, 191 S. Route 83
• Geneva,116 Commons Drive
• Glen Ellyn, 840 Roosevelt Road
• Johnsburg, 2936 Commerce Drive
• Naperville, 1212 S. Naper Blvd., Suite 106; 2760 Aurora Ave.; 2775 Showplace Drive, Suite 107
• North Aurora, 1866 Town Center Drive
• Oswego, 1770 Douglas Road
• Plainfield, 13400 S. Route 59, No. 118
• Shorewood, 1033 Brookforest Ave.
• South Elgin, 600 Randall Road
• Wheaton, 211 Rice Lake Square