The victim of an alleged sexual battery at a Coral Springs Massage Envy is suing the business, according to a press release from her attorney.
Police said the unidentified victim was was sexually battered by massage therapist Michael Ster, 32, last June at the Massage Envy at 2878 University Drive.
According to police, the victim said Ster began touching her breasts at the end of the massage session, then mounted the massage table and continued to sexually assault her.
The victim said she was in shock and tried to push Ster away and he paused for a moment but continued to assault her, police said. When the victim pushed Ster away a second time he stopped, police said.
The lawsuit claims Massage Envy policy does not include any provision that requires employees to notify police of sexual misconduct. It says Massage Envy's "Inappropriate Touch Procedure" instructs franchise owners to take guests to a private room, avoid admitting to anything and create an incident report to send to the Corporate Office.
The victim's attorney Matthew Weissing released the following statement in the press release:
"Massage Envy Franchising has created a danger to its female clientele nationwide, all for the sake of increasing profits. Our law firm is currently handling multiple claims against Massage Envy and we are constantly learning of other victims of sexual abuse at other Massage Envy locations. The common denominator is the instruction from the national Massage Envy Franchise and the atmosphere it has created.”
Massage Envy issued the following statement Thursday evening:
Massage Envy Spa was horrified to learn of these allegations, and we sympathize with the guest of the Coral Springs clinic. In fact, we are considering filing a claim against Mr. Ster for his alleged actions while employed by the Massage Envy Spa franchisee.
Massage Envy Spa has a zero tolerance policy against inappropriate conduct. Each franchisee, including the Coral Springs owner, is required to conduct criminal background and reference checks prior to hiring, which was completed correctly in this case. Also, our franchisees are required that all licensed massage therapists must complete training prior to employment, which specifically covers our zero tolerance policy on inappropriate conduct.
In addition, all franchisees are instructed to notify local law enforcement, as relevant, related to alleged incidents and to fully cooperate with authorities during their investigation. These and other policies and procedures are well above industry standard and designed to provide the millions of members and guests of our franchisees with an unmatched wellness experience in a safe and comfortable environment.
Massage Envy Spa is a national franchisor with nearly 1,000 franchised clinics across the United States. Each franchised location is independently owned and operated. Massage Envy Spa franchisees provide 1.5 million massage and spa services every month to their more than 1.5 million members in 49 states.
Ster was suspended from work pending the investigation. It is unknown whether Ster has an attorney.
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