A woman, who has chosen to remain anonymous, has filed a lawsuit against Massage Envy Franchising, LLC, alleging that the corporation covered up her attack and failed to report the incident to the appropriate authorities.
The plaintiff, who prefers to be called “Mary Doe”, who filed her complaint in the Court of Common Pleas Philadelphia County Civil Trial Division under case number 409, indicated the on the day of her assault, her massage began has it normally would.
She arrived at Massage Envy in West Chester, PA, and was taken into a room by the therapist. He then instructed her to remove as much clothing as she would like and to cover herself with a sheet. He left the room and she did as he had requested. When he returned, her massage began.
During her time spent with the massage therapist, the plaintiff alleges that he sexually assaulted her by touching her breasts and genitals. Scared and unsure of how she should procedure, the plaintiff left the facility. She returned almost a month later and reported the incident to an employee at Massage Envy.
The complaint notes that the employee reported the incident to the Massage Envy main office in Arizona, which was the company’s protocol. She was then instructed to refrain from reporting the assault to the Pennsylvania Board of Massage Therapy or the police. She was directed to handle the matter “in-house”.
The man who the plaintiff has identified as the therapist who assaulted her was suspended for one week. He was then allowed to return to work with no restrictions. It wasn’t until another female client, who also chooses to remain anonymous, reported her assault to the police that an investigation into the matter was performed. When questioned by the police, the therapist admitted to sexually assaulting multiple women, including Mary Doe.
Are Employers Required To Report Sexual Assaults?
Every state has different laws which impose certain reporting obligations, and since Massage Envy franchises are in all 50 states, those reporting obligations will change depending on where the assault took place.To learn more, contact a sexual assault attorney who can inform you of your states laws.
Why Are Plaintiffs Choosing To Remain Anonymous?
Many of the plaintiffs are choosing to not disclose their identity because of the sensitive nature of the assault they experienced. The fact of the matter is that many victims find it difficult to speak up. According to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network, sexual assault is one of the top underreported crimes, with an estimated 68% unreported.
Victims have indicated that there are several factors which made them hesitate to report their assault. Reasons may include:
- Self Blame: many victims think that they could have done something to stop their assault. They believe that they could have fought harder, screamed louder, or behaved in a way which would have stopped their attacker.
- Shame: many victims feel so much shame that they don’t want to admit what happened to them. If they report the incident, it means that they will have to not only remember and relive those moments, they will also have to tell someone else about what happened.
- The Victim Knows Their Attacker: in nearly two-thirds of sexual assault cases, the victim knows their attacker. It can be difficult to face someone you know and make an accusation.
- Fear: victims are often afraid that if they report the incident, that their assailant will come after them.
While the plaintiff in this case has bravely come forward to face those whose negligence resulted in her assault, she still chooses to remain anonymous so that the public doesn’t have in-depth knowledge regarding her personal life. Her identity will be protected and only released to the defendant and necessary individuals involved in the case.