FORT MYERS, Fla. -- More than 100 women have come forward with allegations of sexual assault by Massage Envy employees, including some in Southwest Florida.
BuzzFeed News found that more than 180 people have filed sexual assault lawsuits, police reports, and state board complaints against Massage Envy spas, their employees, and the national company.
Fort Lauderdale Attorney Adam Horowitz handled some of these cases in Florida, telling Fox 4 he has even seen cases in Fort Myers. "I knew there were a large number of cases. To hear there are nearly 200 cases that have gone public is really astonishing," he said.
According to Horowitz, in a recent Winter Garden Massage Envy case, the franchise failed to remove a Clermont man who had complaints against him. He alleges they also failed to report the incident to police, or the Department of Health, which licenses massage therapists. "We saw Massage Envy employed someone with a prior history of sexual misconduct," he said.
Southwest Florida Attorney Bruce L. Scheiner tells 4 In Your Corner that he has not only seen these kinds of claims at spas, but he's seen a spike in sexual assault reports in general, across multiple professions, compared to previous years. This includes doctors, nurses, teachers, and caretakers at nursing homes. "We need to get the establishments who are aware of it to not condone it. They need to take action when they become aware of it," said Scheiner. "Their [victims] first reaction is they don't want anyone to know. But the only way that this problem is going to stop is if everybody comes forward, so that the aggressors will be afraid to do something like that."
Correction: Copy was corrected to reflect the recent claim against Massage Envy referenced happened in Winter Garden, not Clermont.