Nobody anticipates experiencing the trauma of sexual abuse when they go for massage services. Unluckily, some massage therapists who work in spas, hotels, and massage parlors abuse their authority and exploit their clients’ trust, causing them irreversible harm.
If you were sexually abused after visiting a spa, hotel, or massage parlor in Los Angeles, California, talk to our award-winning lawyers at Sex Crime Attorney. We will fight to defend your rights in court. Our attorneys handle a wide variety of sexual abuse-related cases and STDs, making us qualified to litigate your claim.
For most survivors, expressing the trauma they endure might seem fruitless and intimidating, particularly when the justice system has failed many victims before. If you work with us, we will ensure your voice and views are heard and not silenced as we fight to recover the maximum possible compensation for you.
An Overview of Sexual Abuse in Spas
Sexual abuse is an umbrella term for different kinds of unwanted sexual attention, like sexual assault, rape, sexual touching, unwanted fondling, object penetration, forced sodomy, and other sexual-related actions. Keep in mind that unwanted sexual touching includes many different acts like nonconsensual rubbing, stroking, hugging, kissing, groping, and many other actions.
People visit self-care amenities (spas, physical therapists, fitness centers, and massage parlors) to improve their wellness, health, and general well-being. When at these spots, they are usually helped by or interact with therapists, trainers, or other workers. This staff is obliged to be professional and should never take advantage of the circumstances that might be attendant to what their position requires. Unluckily, reports have emerged that workers at these self-care facilities at times take advantage of their clients and act sexually inappropriately.
Spa sexual abuse survivors or sexual abuse victims in other self-care amenities all share a common feature — they are usually in a susceptible position compared to their abuser. People who visit these amenities are usually in closer contact with other people, immobile or injured, or, during treatment, are putting on minimal or no clothing. These clients have allowed themselves to be in this susceptible position because of the trust level they have given the facility's workers.
Sexual abuse occurring at spas or other self-care amenities can occur once or repeatedly throughout the treatment. As implied above, sexual abuse incorporate several different actions. It could range from the behavior described as sexual harassment, like sharing sexually inappropriate videos or images, making sexually-oriented jokes, or making unprofessional sexual gestures to more conspicuous sexual abuse acts, like unwanted touching, penetration, or rubbing. Regardless, both conspicuous sexual abuse acts and sexual harassment can have long-lasting consequences impacting the victim's entire life.
Spa Sexual Abuse Cases Are Underreported
Like other sexual abuse cases, spa sexual abuse cases are usually underreported because of feelings of embarrassment, guilt, or confusion. Generally, any spa client is supposed to sign a consent waiver. But just because you signed a consent waiver for a massage does not mean you agree to any unauthorized or unwanted groping, touching, or other kinds of sexual advances.
These places are frequented for professional experiences. However, when comprehensive policies are not set to safeguard clients, there have to be legal repercussions. You could and should decline any activity you do not consent to and excuse yourself from situations that make you uncomfortable, irrespective of whether or not you signed a consent waiver.
Many female clients who have fallen victims to sexual abuse have spoken out against massage companies, triggering sexual misconduct suits. If you are a spa sexual abuse victim, you should report the abuse to the local police. You could also file a state board complaint against the abuser and the establishment itself, apart from filing a lawsuit.
Suing for Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse survivors are entitled to file a lawsuit against the act the perpetrator and any other party that did contribute to it irrespective of where the abuse occurred. A civil suit differs from a criminal trial and seeks to acquire monetary compensation to settle a sexual abuse case. The amount of compensation awarded differs from one case to another, but the recovered damages remain relatively unchanged. If your claim is successful, you can recover damages such as:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Psychological trauma and emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Psychological therapies
- Past, present, and future medical treatment if the abuse caused you bodily injuries.
- Lost wages if you missed work time to attend counseling or go for treatment
- Punitive damages. This is an extra amount that a judge awards to punish the respondent for deliberate misconduct.
Sexual abuse may traumatize the victim regardless of where it occurred. Whereas a civil suit cannot alter what transpired, it can give victims some level of closure plus financial security in the present and future.
If you have been sexually abused, you may receive financial compensation worth thousands of dollars for any harm inflicted. Your lawsuit may shed some light on criminal activities at a local spa or massage parlor and help bring the responsible parties to justice. A lawyer working with you can give legal counsel and build a compelling claim proving the spa's failure to do background checks before employing a masseuse or massage therapist.
Evaluating Your Spa Sexual Abuse Lawsuits/Claim
When you visit a professional masseuse or massage spa, you trust that you are being attended to by professionals that will treat you with respect and integrity. However, when these professionals cross boundaries, they will have violated the law, and you have the right to sue them. When evaluating whether you have a valid claim, consider the following:
- The established legal boundaries
- Any sexually explicit statement, sexual touching, or any form of sexual teasing or harassment
- Every client should undress or dress in private.
- Touching breasts is unacceptable. That is either sexual assault or prostitution. In most states, massaging breasts is not acceptable. And in states where it is legal, the client must consent in writing.
- While on the massage table, clients should be safely covered or draped with a towel or sheet that must be tucked-in in a manner the sensitive parts are not exposed
- In any case, the genital parts must be covered with a towel or sheet while the massage therapist is doing their work
Liability for Spa Sexual Abuse
Over the past few years, many victims have come forward concerning their experiences of sexual abuse at spas in California and across the United States. If you are a victim of sexual abuse at a spa, hotel, or massage parlor, you can hold multiple parties you can hold responsible. These parties are, among others:
The Abuser (Massage Therapist)
The abuser can be the massage therapist. Any massage therapist who takes advantage of a client and touches them inappropriately has to be held responsible. The massage therapist can be subject to criminal charges and civil liability for the emotional and physical damages their actions caused. Lawsuits filed against the sex abuse perpetrator may lead to jail time, monetary penalties, or revocation of their professional license.
Operator and Owner of the Spa or Massage Parlor
Businesses and business owners are obligated to ensure their workers interact with clients safely. You can hold the operators and owners of these establishments civilly responsible for not taking preventive measures to protect you from sexual assault. You can show that the operator and owner failed to sufficiently implement guidelines, screening, and other procedures while hiring or training employees and therapists. For example, if the business failed to do thorough background checks on their massage therapists before employing them or employed a therapist aware they possessed a record of committing sexual abuse. In that case, the business is likely to be partially responsible for any emerging damages.
If the spa is a large chain, you could also hold the leading franchise civilly responsible for damages their negligence caused. For instance, Massage Envy has been subject to liability lawsuits for hiding sexual abuse complaints in their spas from the police, the public, and licensing boards.
In California, the law requires many national companies to set policies that ensure employees respect clients' boundaries. These policies usually include conducting a background check on possible employees, monitoring employees closely and sufficiently training them on appropriate behavior, and investigating and reporting sexual misconduct claims from clients.
Unfortunately, a few large employers, like Massage Envy, ignore sexual abuse complaints brought against their massage therapists and employees and continue to hire these people, making themselves responsible for negligence claims. Per most negligence rules, if the spa or massage parlor previously received sexual misconduct-related complaints against their massage therapists and failed to fire the therapists in question, they could be held responsible and be subject to civil penalties.
Naming Responsible Parties in Your Spa Sexual Abuse Suit
When you visit a spa for massage services, you anticipate a respectful treatment and enjoy a stress-free, thoroughly relaxing experience. But when a massage therapist takes advantage of the client's vulnerability, it can make them (the client) frozen and shocked. This horrifying violation justified the responsible parties to assume liability. As we mentioned, you are entitled to file a civil lawsuit against the massage therapist/therapists and the business they work for.
When filing a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse that involves a business and its workers, you want to seek help from a skilled sexual abuse attorney to defend your rights.
How Bringing a Sexual Abuse Suit Can Help
When your massage therapist abuses you sexually through attempted rape, completed rape, or inappropriate touching, it is an offense. If you speak out against them, you will be assisting in bringing them to justice and preventing them from committing the same acts to other clients. Not only will bringing a sexual abuse claim or lawsuit hold the acts' perpetrators responsible, but it could also assist survivors in beginning the healing journey and continuing to live their lives as usual. If you are a sexual abuse victim, expressing how you feel and seeking expert assistance are the initial steps towards your healing process.
Recent Spa Sexual Abuse Cases
In the past years, investigative reports have outlined that most large, well-established companies usually have several sexual harassment and assault accusations against them plus their works. Examples are Massage Envy.
As of 2017, over a hundred and eighty females have brought sex abuse complaints against the employees of Massage Envy and the establishment itself about sexual abuse allegations, per the Buzzfeed News Investigation. The clients filed police reports, state licensing board complaints, and sexual abuse lawsuits against the national company and numerous Massage Envy locations. In 2019, four more women claimed they were subjected to digital penetration, groping, and other sexual abuse by massage therapists at different Massage Envy locations across California, including Cotati, Corona, Encinitas, and Daly City. The lawsuits named Massage Envy's corporate parent and franchise operators are respondents.
In 2019, another female client came forward claiming a Massage Envy worker ejaculated on her back while lying undressed on a massage table in Encinitas, California. After reporting this occurrence to the facility's manager, they apologized and offered her a cost-free massage.
The aforementioned cases are only the most recent among many countrywide lawsuits against this company. The complainants' lawsuits state that sexual abuse is so high at this company due to the businesses' incomprehensible procedure and policy of ordering franchisees to hide sexual abuse allegations reports to protect their brand. They also state that using Massage Envy's protocol encouraged workers to handle sexual misconduct allegations internally.
Regardless of a new Massage Envy's corporate office set in response to the investigation, the business continued shielding itself and failed to demand that franchise owners take steps towards remedying or preventing sexual abuse instances by workers. Most abusers and authorities continued working within the business. Massage Envy owners plus owners of individual Massage Envy spas have been settling suits claiming sexual abuse by male employees since 2002.
As recent as 2020, this company continued ignoring sexual abuse complaints against its employees by not demanding that franchisees report the complaints to the police. Regardless of the set policies to protect their business, Massage Envy might still be responsible for the franchisees' failure to safeguard clients and their massage therapists' actions.
The complainants believe that this company did not direct its franchisees to report client sexual abuse complaints to the police or state massage therapy boards. They further outline that the 'Inappropriate Touch Procedure' experienced in Massage Envy's General Orientation, Manual & Workbook did not have instructions to inform authorities.
The Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
The statute of limitations to bring a sexual abuse civil suit varies depending on what state you reside in. In many states, sexual abuse survivors have only two years, counted from the day the abuse occurred, to bring a lawsuit. The victim's age during the abuse is also considered and impacts the period the complainant has to file a suit. A few states have also established statutes of limitations that provide extra time for suing the massage parlor or spa that hired the abuser in given circumstances. To establish the amount of time you have to file a sexual abuse lawsuit, you want to contact a lawyer as quickly as possible. We know that this could seem scary, but you should not wait so long and miss the opportunity to seek justice. Unfortunately, a few states have set deadlines apart from the statute of limitations, for instance, a timeframe to file a police report for sexual abuse.
What You Should Do If You Are Sexually Abused in a Spa
It is critical to report the abuse immediately, although it might be difficult, and you might need to undergo embarrassing and difficult questioning. If you have experienced inappropriate touching or behavior from your massage therapist, do the following:
- Report the abuse — you should file a police report and complaint with the business that has employed the massage therapist or therapists
- See a physician — set a doctor's appointment and undergo a physical exam related to the sexual abuse. Take pictures of any related injuries or body marks.
- Collect information — compile all the documents you might have related to the day you were abused, including receipts, appointment details, spa membership info, or phone call recordings.
- Record everything that happened— note down everything that transpired all the details you remember, including names, address, dates, and other info concerning the spa or massage parlor where the sexual abuse took place.
- Contact an attorney — you should also reach out to a lawyer to find out your options. You want to act fast to have enough time to take statements and gather adequate proof. Additionally, the quicker you move to act, the earlier you will obtain justice and help stop similar unfortunate incidents from occurring to other innocent victims.
- File a sexual abuse claim —if you were sexually abused in a spa or massage parlor, you might qualify to hold the liable party responsible for their atrocious act. If you are not sure where to seek assistance, know you are not on your own. We will help you through the challenging period. Let us be your advocate in defending your legal rights. When facing difficulty pursuing a sexual abuse claim, our lawyers are readily available to assist you in seeking justice and fair compensation and continue living your life as usual.
Tips to Stay Safe When Undergoing Massage
If you wish to stay safe while being massaged, the following tips can help:
- Whereas this is sometimes impossible, try limiting your massage therapists to those who have served other individuals you know.
- Keep certain clothes on. If your massage therapist says you must remove specific clothes before the massage, such as underwear, they will be lying to you. That should be the first warning sign that they may be a threat.
- Set rules before the massage starts. Tell your therapist you will not be comfortable if they touch certain places and be clear where those parts are.
- Research about the massage therapist that will attend to you before your appointment. Unlicensed massage therapists are highly likely to pose a danger since they are unregulated and perform massages illegally. Ensure your therapist's license is valid, active, and they do not have any disciplinary action against them.
- If something looks suspicious, let the therapist know and make them stop or leave. If you walk out, the worst thing that could happen is you will lose your cash. If you are uncomfortable, it is not worth the risk.
Whereas massage therapy sometimes includes manipulating the inner thighs, breasts, or chest muscles, clients are entitled to remain covered/clothed or request the therapist not to touch private or sensitive parts. If anything, it is inappropriate for a massage therapist to touch clients' private parts. They should never also touch clients with their genital parts.
You are not supposed to report your sexual abuse case to the establishment management. You could report the matter to law enforcement directly instead. But addressing the issue with the establishment can strengthen your claim against the abuser if you can prove they knew about the abuser being inappropriate in the past or did not look into your complaint as they are supposed to.
Find a Sex Crime Attorney Near Me
Sexual abuse trauma can undoubtedly last an entire lifetime. That is why at Sex Crime Attorney, we are committed to assisting you with your spa sexual abuse case. We will fight vigorously to defend your rights against the party responsible for the harm inflicted upon you. We understand that nothing can make up for what happened to you, but we will not rest until we bring the responsible party or parties to book. In our several years' experience, we have seen that most survivors find peace knowing nobody else will experience what they did under the same establishment or person. You may also recover damages to pay for the necessary treatment so you can find closure to move forward. If you have been sexually abused at a spa or any other self-care facility in Los Angeles, CA, call us at 424-835-9799 to share your case with us.