LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — More than 150 women say they were sexually assaulted at Massage Envy spas across the country.
The allegations are part of a detailed in a report by Buzzfeed and come three years after CBS2/KCAL9’s David Goldstein found allegations in Southern California and raised questions about training and how the company handles assault claims.
Tonight another local woman is sharing her story.
After five years, Kandice Martellaro says she can’t shake the anger over what happened to her at Massage Envy and how it was handled.
She says it happened while she was making minimum wage, working as a receptionist at this Glendale location and getting a complimentary massage.
“He pulled the blanket back down to my ankles, pulled my underwear down to my knees, could see everything I had and then massaged my butt with his hands,” she said.
Martellaro says she told her manager but the therapist kept his job.
It’s not an isolated story. In 2014, Goldstein found two other women who say they were sexually assaulted by different therapists at the same Glendale location.
“Next thing I know, he just put his hand underneath my underwear. It’s scary. It’s no different, like your in that bed, and it’s no different than having someone come into your house and rape you,” one of the women said.
Goldstein found reports of assault at Massage Envy franchises from California to New Jersey. But now, Buzzfeed News says it found more than 180 reports at the chain across the nation.
Many victims say the company’s response was insulting; some say they were offered their money back or were told not to file a police report.
Last month, a Richmond, Virginia woman who was assaulted started a Change.org petition calling on the company to support individuals sexually assaulted at their locations.
“I think that some sort of serious audit needs to happen of the company and their protocol needs to be immensely changed,” Martellaro said.
She hopes all of these women speaking out about predatory massage therapists will get the attention of the companies who hire them and the agencies who license them.
“When this happened to me I thought I this was isolated, it was the just one sick man,” she said.
CBS2/KCAL9 left a message for the Glendale franchise owner but did not hear back Sunday.
A statement from Massage Envy’s corporate office reads in part: “The article references 180 reported incidents. These occurred over a span of 15-plus years and 125 million massages. But, we believe that even ONE incident is too many so we are constantly listening, learning, and evaluating how we can continue to strengthen our policies with respect to handling of these issues.”