Four women sue Massage Envy, including Cotati site, claiming sexual assault

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Four women have claimed they were sexually assaulted by five employees at four different California locations of Massage Envy, including the Cotati store.

The women made the allegations in a lawsuit filed Thursday against the Arizona-based national massage and skin care services chain in California Superior Court in San Mateo.

The accusations involving the Cotati location were made by a Sonoma County woman who used her Massage Envy membership to schedule a routine massage in March 2016. During her massage, she claimed the masseuse touched her in a sexual way and placed a hot towel on her vaginal area and inner thighs. She left the massage room, told the receptionist what happened and requested the person call the police, but the request was ignored, according to the complaint.

The other three women alleged they had similar interactions with massage therapists at Massage Envy sites in Daly City, Encinitas and Corona.

The four plaintiffs alleged the improper sexual touching occurred during massage appointments between 2014 and 2016. They also claimed Massage Envy employees made sexually oriented comments to them.

“These women are survivors of a horrible situation but what they really want is to effectuate a change,” their San Francisco attorney Elizabeth Graham said.

Massage Envy issued a prepared statement Friday that said the company has established work practices in place for its massage staff and is committed to offering “a safe environment for members, guests and service providers at each of our nearly 1,200 franchise locations, and we will never stop working to have industry-leading safety policies.”

A reporter’s attempts to reach the manager of the Cotati location for comment were unsuccessful.

The four women who brought the suit are seeking a jury trial and financial damages for pain, suffering, emotional distress and other challenges.

Graham, the women’s attorney, said if the suit is successful she hopes the outcome will help to “shift the culture of this company.”

You can reach Staff Writer Alexandria Bordas at 707-521-5337 or alexandria.bordas@pressdemocrat.com.

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