The Sarasota police have officially charged a former Massage Envy employee with battery after another woman came forward and alleged that he inappropriately touched her. The 44-year-old massage therapist, Russell Grushco, now faces a total of three battery charges, all filed by women who claim that during their massage sessions, he touched them inappropriately.
The first woman to come forward told police that when she visited Massage Envy for a 90 minute session, she was scheduled with Grushco. At first, everything seemed to progress normally but suddenly, he lifted the sheet she was under and began to touch her in private parts of her body. When she insisted that he stop, he asked her if she was sure that she really wanted him to stop and continued his inappropriate behavior. Feeling shocked and unsure of what to do, she pushed him away but allowed the regular massage to continue. At the end of the session he then pressured her for her contact information and told her he wanted to make her a “private” client.
Not long after she filed her complaint, a second woman came forward, stating that she was also inappropriately touched during a private session.
The third victim came forward after seeing a news story and a picture of Grushco. She has informed police that she booked a massage with him through the app Thumbtack in January and that the attack occurred during their session.
Massage Envy A Hotbed Of Sexual Assault
These women are not alone – in 2017 nearly 200 lawsuits were filed against Massage Envy as well as numerous former employees, all alleging that the chain had created a culture in which sexual predators thrived, allowing the systemic abuse of hundreds of patrons.
In many cases, plaintiffs have noted that they approached Massage Envy employees and reported the sexual assault, which included groping, digital penetration, and oral penetration, only to be ignored. In a statement given to Fox News, the chain even went so far as to confirm that there was no corporate policy which required employees to report incidents to law enforcement.
Plaintiffs Hope Change Will Come From Their Pain
In addition to seeking compensation for the suffering they have endured, the hundreds of plaintiffs involved in the Massage Envy litigation are hoping that they can push for a federal law which will require all spas to report any allegations of sexual assault to the police.