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Massage Envy facing new lawsuits in Bend, nationally


Alarming allegations are coming out against the popular spa franchise Message Envy. Nearly 200 woman claim they’ve been sexually assaulted, several of them in Central Oregon.

NewsChannel 21 reported more than a year ago that two women alleged they were the victims of sexual abuse at the Bend location.

The women claim that in October 2015, Christopher Rosario touched them inappropriately during a massage. They later filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against him and the operators of the franchise, located at Cascade Village Shopping Center.

Now, court documents filed Oct. 5, show a third alleged victim is also suing. Rosario was originally scheduled to go on trial in January 2017, but that has been delayed and is now scheduled for January 2018.

Across the nation, alleged victims have begun to come forward, saying the spa’s management and owners did nothing when they were told about the sexual misconduct.

Buzzfeed News reported this week that the massage franchise, which has more than 1.6 million members and 1,170 locations nationwide, is facing allegations that 180 women were sexually assaulted at some of its spas.

KGW reported Monday that Rosario and two other Massage Envy therapists at Springfield and Portland locations have had their licenses revoked by the Oregon Board of Massage Therapists since 2012 due to sex abuse allegations.

Buzzfeed reported that Massage Envy claimed in court documents that it isn’t liable for sexual assaults that happen at its franchised locations.

In a statement released to ABC, Massage Envy said it was “heartbroken” over every incident and that one incident is too many.

NewsChannel 21 contacted those in charge of Bend’s Massage Envy. They said they could not comment, but connected us with the corporate office, which sent us this statement explaining its policies:

“All franchised locations must adhere to our stringent standards and policies. These policies include the requirement that all therapists employed by Massage Envy franchisees be licensed or certified by the state in which they work.

“In the few states that do not require licensure or certification, Massage Envy has set a hiring standard for the franchise network that is consistent with the prevailing requirements in other states. In addition, all therapists employed by franchisees are required to go through an accredited background check and a reference check before they are hired and are required to complete four annual required trainings, including specific training on the Code of Conduct and Zero Tolerance Policy.

“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 the franchisee finds that a zero-tolerance offense occurred, they are required to terminate the therapist and that therapist is ineligible for hire at any Massage Envy franchise location nationwide.

“We do recommend that franchisees support and assist clients who choose to report to law enforcement, but the current policy does not require notification to law enforcement.

“The current policies are based on consultation with experts — including industry experts, a prosecutor with extensive experience prosecuting crimes of sexual misconduct, as well as current and former law enforcement officials — who say victims of sexual assault should maintain control over the critical decision of whether to report sexual assault to law enforcement.

“Franchisees are required to report inappropriate conduct to the state licensing boards that require it. In some states, only a client can report an incident and some states have no board or mechanism for handling reports of inappropriate conduct.”

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