A South Florida woman has accused a former massage therapist at East Hollywood Massage Envy of sexually assaulting her during a massage. Lissette Riquelme contacted Hollywood Police and said the massage therapist made sexually suggestive comments before the massage. She says he then recommended a Thai massage and climbed on top of her and got an erection. The police department has assigned a detective to investigate the case, but no arrest has been made yet. Massage Envy has announced that the accused massage therapist is no longer employed with the company.
Allegations of sexual assault by massage therapists are unfortunately somewhat common in South Florida and across the United States. In 2018 alone, at least seven massage therapists in Broward and Miami-Dade counties have been accused of inappropriate sexual conduct. With locations all over the United States, Massage Envy is one of the largest massage franchises in the country. More than 180 women have accused massage therapists at Massage Envy of sexual assault.
Here is sexual abuse victims lawyer Michael Haggard with some thoughts on the legal rights of victims of sexual assault by massage therapists:
The recent uptick in massage therapist sexual assault allegations may not be because of an increase in these incidents, but because more victims have decided to come forward. When these cases make headlines, other victims often feel empowered and decide to speak out about their own assaults.
Nearly 200 Massage Envy locations have been sued for sexual assault. While the criminal justice system works to punish the sexual predators who commit these crimes, the civil court system allows victims to hold companies responsible for negligence. This is an important part of justice for victims, as many cases of sexual assault could have been prevented if the company had done more to protect its clients, such as conducting thorough background checks and taking complaints of sexual abuse seriously.