West Chester, Pa. (WTXF) - Massage Envy, the nation’s largest massage franchise, says it is planning to “strengthen” its policies after more than 180 women have come forward with accusations of sexual assault against the company’s massage therapists and managers.
"I was thinking that I was going to be raped or strangled. I felt the presence of evil." Susan Ingram's terrifying story of sexual assault by a therapist at Massage Envy spa in West Chester is now a focal point of a bombshell BuzzFeed News report claiming more than 180 women have been victims of sexual assault at Massage Envy locations all across the country.
"I didn't understand me anymore. I was confused why I didn't fight back. I was feeling shame, which I understand from lots of therapy is very common," she said.
She's talking about James Deiter, the former masseuse, now serving 6 and a half years behind bars. Ingram says she went to him several times for a deep tissue massage with no problems until the blindsiding attack happened in May of 2015.
"It was only when I turned over on to my stomach and I felt his erect penis against my hand, rubbed up across my arm, rubbed up across my head, rubbed up across my other arm," she said. "He lifted me up from underneath, aggressively handled my breasts and proceeded to penetrate me with his fingers."
Ingram went on to say, "I called a friend. I was sobbing so uncontrollably that I couldn't explained to her what at happened. I couldn't drive the car because I was overwhelmed."
The Chester County DA's office says Deiter was linked to nine victims, but a BuzzFeed report says it's actually a disturbing trend with other suspects harming nearly 200 alleged Massage Envy victims from coast to coast.
"It was shocking to see the scope of these allegations across the nation," Chester County DA Tom Hogan said.
In a statement, Massage Envy's corporate office says in part:
"Each of these incidents is heartbreaking for us and for the franchisees that operate Massage Envy locations, and we will never stop looking for ways to help our franchisees provide a safe environment at Massage Envy franchise locations."
Susan Ingram hopes this story can prevent other women or men from becoming victims, too.
"I am so happy to know or hope that there will be justice and that more victims will come forward not just against Massage Envy but in general."