Several women have accused a Delaware massage therapist of sexual assault at two different massage businesses in Newark and Wilmington. Multiple female clients say that Christopher D. Dorman sexually assaulted them during massage sessions at both Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa in Wilmington, and Massage Envy in Newark. The alleged victims say that Dorman improperly touched their breasts and genitals and did not properly cover their bodies.
Dorman was charged with three counts of unlawful sexual contact in September for the alleged incidents, which took place in June 2017 at Hand & Stone in Wilmington and in July 2018 at Massage Envy in Newark.
According to a criminal complaint filed by the Department of Justice, Dorman "displayed a pattern of escalating behavior towards female clients that puts them at risk."
On Wednesday, November 28, Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock signed an order suspending Dorman's massage therapy license. This suspension is good for 60 days, which allows for disciplinary hearings or Dorman's final disposition. He could face additional sanctions, such as the permanent revocation of his license, after the hearing concludes.
This case of sexual assault is not unique for Massage Envy or Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa. Both nationwide chains have had widespread issues with massage therapists sexually assaulting their clients.
A BuzzFeed News investigation from late 2017 revealed that 180 people have reported sexual assault by Massage Envy employees, and dozens of other victims have spoken out since then and filed lawsuits against the company.
Employees of Hand & Stone Massage have been charged and/or convicted of sexually assaulting clients in Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Canada.
Attorney contributor Phil Edwards has a long track record of representing sexual assault survivors, including in lawsuits against Massage Envy. We have asked him for some of his thoughts on legal recourse for those who have been sexually assaulted by massage therapists:
Massage therapy chains have made the industry much more popular across the United States. With thousands of locations, it's crucial for the owners of these chains to make sure their customers are safe. Massage therapy is an intimate experience which relies heavily on trust. But some massage therapists are sexual predators who abuse this trust by sexually assaulting their clients. And in many cases, these companies fail to properly respond to complaints of sexual misconduct, sometimes even allowing accused sexual predators to work at other locations.
Many survivors have fought back against these companies by filing lawsuits alleging that the companies failed to keep their customers safe through negligence. If you or a loved one has been sexually assaulted by a massage therapist, you can learn more about your legal options by speaking to an experienced sexual assault survivors attorney.