New Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Filed Against Massage Envy on Upper East Side
Complaint alleges inappropriate contact by a male massage therapist in September 2017
NYPD investigated this same location TWICE for sexual assault of clients before this incident
Massage Therapist remains licensed and is believed to be working in the industry still
A new lawsuit has been filed in New York County Supreme Court alleging the sexual assault of a female patron of Massage Envy, the nation’s largest massage provider.
[Click below for Complaint against Massage Envy filed in New York, NY on 5/9/18]
According to the Complaint, the Plaintiff, identified in the lawsuit as Jane Doe No. 120, made an appointment for a massage on September 9, 2017, at MASSAGE ENVY SUTTON PLACE (344 E. 63rd St., Manhattan). When she arrived, the spa assigned SAMUEL ADAM MICHAEL, a licensed massage therapist, to perform her massage. But, according to Jane Doe’s allegations, Michael engaged in inappropriate and sexual behavior with her during the massage. Among other things, she alleges that he touched her vaginal/groin area and buttocks in a sexual manner, and rubbed his own genitals on her repeatedly.
When she tried to report the misconduct to a Massage Envy employee, she was told that Michael had already been the subject of other complaints during his short tenure at the spa.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) previously investigated this same Massage Envy location on two occasions for sexual misconduct with clients. According to prior media reports, in August 2015 and January 2017 police were called to the Upper East Side location by clients who say they too were touched in an unwanted sexual manner by their massage therapists.
In November 2017, Buzzfeed News reported that Massage Envy was the subject of nearly 200 lawsuits, administrative complaints, and police investigations for the sexual assault of clients by massage therapists. For more information on that report, click here.
“Massage Envy claims to be the largest massage chain in America, which means that it has great responsibility for protecting unsuspecting clients by making sure that the spa environment is safe for its customers. It should be the gold standard of safety in the industry, but its policies and operations continually leave clients vulnerable. That is unacceptable,” says Attorney Jessica Arbour, a Minneapolis-based attorney who is one of the attorneys representing Jane Doe.
The Plaintiff in the lawsuit, Jane Doe No. 120, said, “I can still feel his fingers exploring the parts of me he should never have touched, exposed in a way I shouldn’t have been. The paralyzing fear and vulnerability that I experienced in those moments was totally preventable.”
Arbour has previously filed suit against Massage Envy in the Chicago area after another young woman made similar allegations against her massage therapist there. Arbour says, “women should be able to expect that they will be safe while getting a massage regardless of the chain providing the service or the gender of the massage therapist. Period. No exceptions.”
According to the attorneys’ investigation, Michael remained employed at Massage Envy until very recently and continued to see clients despite the plaintiff’s report to a Massage Envy employee last year. There is no indication that subsequent clients were informed that he had been the subject of misconduct allegations of any type.
“The chain’s ‘zero tolerance policy’ has some significant loopholes that allow for a whole lot of tolerance, apparently,” says Arbour.
“This is not just about my experience. I decided to sue when I learned that multiple women complained to Massage Envy about this same employee, and that Massage Envy did nothing to him,” Jane Doe says. “Even as I received emails about new customer safety initiatives in the wake of stories not unlike my own, this man still worked at Massage Envy. He was given access to dozens, if not hundreds, of unsuspecting New Yorkers who trust Massage Envy with their safety, even after my report to them. My experience is not an isolated one, and I hope this lawsuit will convince Massage Envy to step up and be accountable for what happens to women like me who are in their care.”
According to his Linked In profile, Michael is now working at Soho House as a massage therapist. His license remains in good standing with the State of New York despite a December 2017 complaint of misconduct by Jane Doe.
Jane Doe No. 120 v. GP NY Partners LLC d/b/a Massage Envy and Samuel Adam Michael (index no. 152515/2018) is now pending in New York County Supreme Court.