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Massage Envy therapists accused of sexually assaulting clients in Palm Beach County

Posted: 8:16 PM, Aug 27, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-30 21:19:19Z

In Palm Beach Gardens, a major civil lawsuit has been filed against the national massage chain Massage Envy.

Eleven women across Palm Beach County and the state claim they suffered sexual assault by therapists with the nation's largest massage chain.

Attorneys with Gordon and Doner announced the lawsuit Monday morning.

"We are excited about the opportunity to finally give a voice to these women," said attorney Jennifer Lipinski.

Philadelphia-based attorney Brian Kent with Lacey Bucci Kent law firm led the first major lawsuit filed in California following a national report and investigation by Buzzfeed News in November .

He's now assisting victims who have come forward in West Palm Beach, Royal Palm Beach and Boca Raton locations. Other locations around the state include Fort Lauderdale, Sarasota, Duval County and Pasco County.

"I think it's the most vulnerable position a man or woman can be in where you're taking your clothes off in a closed room, with a stranger," said Kent. "One of them is a breast cancer survivor. This affects all people of all walks of life."

In the nearly 170-page report, the victims -- named only as Jane Doe -- allege incidents of groping. The victims' names are not being disclosed. Attorneys said none of the locations involved have been shut down and they believe most of the assailants are still employed or were never prosecuted.

Lipinski described one victim who received a massage at the Massage Envy location in West Palm Beach near Village Boulevard.

"She went for her massage and was assaulted with the vaginal touching," she said. "None of them expected to be assaulted during that massage. Some of them even attempted to contact management and their calls went unreturned."

The lawsuit also claims Massage Envy tried to hide the problem through an alleged policy of telling staff to "not go to police."

"If you know that there's a therapist that's committed a sexual assault, it's allowing that person to go on, maybe not with massage envy, but other places," said Kent.

Massage Envy issued the following statement to WPTV on Monday:

“Massage Envy is committed to providing a safe environment for our members, guests and service providers,” said Joseph C. Magnacca, CEO of Massage Envy. “One incident is too many, which is why our rigorous Commitment to Safety plan is in place to identify and implement measures that will keep the clients and therapists at Massage Envy franchise locations safe.”

Massage Envy says they launched their "Commitment to Safety" in late 2017, as a way to strengthen their existing policies on prevention and handling of inappropriate conduct in the massage therapy room.

The statement reads, "A critical component of the Commitment to Safety was the formation of the Safety Advisory Council, an eight-member group made up of leading authorities on sexual assault prevention, investigation and victim support, representatives from the massage therapy profession, Massage Envy franchise owners and members of the Massage Envy leadership team. The Safety Advisory Council draws from its collective expertise to help guide us in our implementation of the Commitment to Safety plan."

Kent said he believes there are more victims in Florida.

"We are asking any other women who have been sexually assaulted to join in this fight," he said.

Similar lawsuits against Massage Envy are being processed right now in New Jersey and Delaware.