A San Diego woman claims she was raped at a Massage Envy Spa in Rancho Bernardo, adding her voice to the more than 180 women across the nation who say they were sexually assaulted or inappropriately touched at Massage Envy Spas.
According to a detailed legal complaint filed by the San Diego woman, the incident happened in September 2011, at the Massage Envy spa on Bernardo Center Drive.
The woman asked NBC 7 not to disclose her name because she is still embarrassed and emotionally scarred by the alleged rape.
According to her lawsuit, she had fallen asleep on the massage table and awoke when the therapist grabbed her legs, pulled her to the edge of the table, and raped her.
The lawsuit also claims the therapist had a criminal record for felony assault, and the woman’s attorney argued that the Massage Envy franchise and its parent company are responsible for damage to the woman because they employed the therapist, despite that warning sign.
In its response to the lawsuit, Massage Envy in Rancho Bernardo and Massage Envy Franchising, LLC both denied the woman’s allegation.
An attorney for the therapist was not available for comment on the allegations.
Court documents confirm the case was dismissed in December 2012, and the woman’s lawyer, Stephen Morris, said the legal action was settled by a “substantial” payment from one or more of the defendants.
The victim told NBC 7 she is grateful that the nation-wide investigation by the online news site BuzzFeed alerted the public to the potential dangers women face at massage businesses.
She said she agreed to share her story in hopes of empowering other women to immediately report any incident of sexual assault or unwanted touching. She says she regrets that she waited a week to call the police, which she did because she was too shocked, embarrassed and confused to act quickly.
“Go to your car,” she said. “Sit in your car. Call the police. I didn’t do that, and that is probably the only regret I’ll have in life.”
She said that because she waited to call the police, there was no DNA evidence to support her rape claim, and police advised her that prosecutors would not file criminal charges against the massage therapist.
She also recommended that in an abundance of caution, women should request a female masseuse. “Unfortunately, the temptation of having little or no clothes on in a dark room, for a man that is of questionable character, that might be too much of a temptation for him. And we [women] are literally sitting ducks."
A state database of massage licensees reveals that the massage therapist named in the lawsuit had his license revoked. It is unclear if that revocation was related to the alleged rape.