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Myrtle Beach Massage Therapist Sexually Assaulted Woman, Lawsuit Says

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Six months after a woman was allegedly sexually assaulted by a massage therapist at a Massage Envy in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, she filed a lawsuit against the national spa franchise.

She is one of hundreds of women who claim they were sexually assaulted by their massage therapist at Massage Envy.

The woman — named “Jane Doe” in the lawsuit — is suing Massage Envy Grand Dunes and its local franchise owner Palmetto Wellness Group.

According to the lawsuit, Doe was sexually assaulted at the Massage Envy Spa Grand Dunes, located at 980 Cipriana Drive, Myrtle Beach on September 20, 2020.

Doe was a member of Massage Envy at the time and had previously been massaged by the accused therapist who was not named in the lawsuit.

She was scheduled for a two-hour massage that day. She disrobed and laid down on the massage table as usual, according to the lawsuit.

At the end of the massage, as the masseuse was stretching Doe’s leg, he took his hand and rubbed it directly on her vagina without consent, the lawsuit said.

Jane Doe felt “utterly shocked, helpless and scared,” the lawsuit said.

She told the masseuse to stop, according to the lawsuit.

The massage therapist then said he “hoped he didn’t ruin anything for her,” as she lay on the table terrified, the lawsuit said.

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After the massage ended, Doe left quickly as she didn’t feel safe enough to tell management at that time, the lawsuit said.

She immediately reported the assault to her mother and Horry County Police, according to the lawsuit.

After Massage Envy and the Palmetto Wellness Group were told about the assault, they never reported the incident to the the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, the lawsuit said.

Massage Envy management never reported the assault to police, either.

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“The defendants actively sought to conceal the knowledge and danger of customers being sexually assaulted within their business locations by actively preventing sexual assault reports from being reported to law enforcement and/or state massage therapy boards,” the lawsuit said.

It is not known where the criminal case stands.

Georgetown, South Carolina attorneys James B. Moore and Scott C. Evans are representing Doe in the lawsuit. Click below to read the full lawsuit.

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‘National Epidemic’

Buzzfeed News reported in 2017 that more than 180 women have claimed they were sexually assaulted by Massage Envy employees.

“Sexual misconduct committed by massage therapists at Massage Envy franchise locations is a national epidemic, with over hundreds of known reports of sexual assaults by its therapists occurring throughout the country,” the lawsuit said.

One of those woman was Danielle Dick, a professor from Virginia. who wrote a powerful personal story on Medium detailing her Massage Envy assault as a part of the #MeToo campaign.

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She started a change.org petition calling on Massage Envy to advocate for the company to fix its sexual assault polices. More than 60,000 people signed the petition, which prompted Massage Envy to make company changes addressing sexual assault reporting.

But the company’s policies are still problematic and discourage employees from reporting to the police, according to the lawsuit.

In 2019, Massage Envy was placed on National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s (NCOSE) Dirty Dozen List.

“Customers need to know that Massage Envy has egregious policies that seem to protect corporate interests above customer safety in cases of sexual harassment and assault,” the NCOSE said in the article.

Jane Doe isn’t the first woman in South Carolina to sue Massage Envy for sexual assault.

In November, a woman in Charleston County, South Carolina sued Massage Envy after she was sexually assaulted in December 2017 in Mount Pleasant. Her massage therapist ultimately pled guilty to the assault (see full lawsuit below).

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