The law firm of Allen & Allen recently filed a $1.1 million lawsuit against Massage Envy Franchising, LLC, ME Short Pump, Inc. and Albert L. Safewright, Jr. on behalf of a female victim who was sexually assaulted by a male Massage Envy employee at the franchise spa location in Short Pump on April 10, 2018.
The victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, was groped by a Massage Envy employee during a full body massage. She felt too intimidated by the Massage Envy employee who assaulted her to immediately report what happened, but after she left the spa she called the police and he was arrested. Albert Safewright, Jr. ultimately pled guilty and was convicted of assault.
Says Allen & Allen Richmond attorney James M. Kessel: “When women go for a massage, they are placed in a vulnerable position, in a dark room with very little clothing. They place a tremendous amount of trust in Massage Envy to provide a safe experience and, in this case as in other cases, the company failed.”
The assault at the Short Pump location occurred approximately one year after Danielle Dick, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, spoke out in a Richmond Times Dispatch article about an assault she experienced in 2015 at the Massage Envy location in Willow Lawn.
A subsequent 2017 BuzzFeed News report found that nearly 200 people had filed sexual assault lawsuits, police reports, and state board complaints against Massage Envy spas, their employees and the National Company, which has more than 1,100 locations serving 1.5 million members.
In response to an apparent epidemic of spa assaults, the Duty to Report Sexual Assault Act of 2017 was recently introduced in Congress, which would provide for criminal penalties against the owner of a massage establishment for failure to report allegations of sexual assault to law enforcement. The bill remains in Committee.
The victim’s lawyers are aware of other recent allegations of sexual assault committed by a different employee at a local Massage Envy spa. The victim is hopeful that Massage Envy will finally take action to keep this from continuing to happen to other women.
If you’ve been a victim of sexual assault and are unsure of the next steps to take, the compassionate and assertive attorneys at Allen & Allen can help.