Massage Envy Sex Assaults: Madigan Investigating Illinois Claims

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Wednesday announced she is looking into sexual assault claims against several Massage Envy locations across the state. Madigan said she's issued subpoenas to the Arizona-based chain after a Buzzfeed report claiming that more than 180 former customers have reported being groped or sexually assaulted by massage therapists working for Massage Envy, including multiple accusations in Illinois.

Madigan said her office is investigating locations in Chicago, Elmhurst, Naperville and Tinley Park after several women claimed they were assaulted by male massage therapists. Some of the reports have resulted in lawsuits against the chain, along with several arrests.

A former massage therapist at the Naperville location also pleaded guilty to battery after a Plainfield woman said he cupped her breasts and rubbed her nipples during a 2013 massage. When the woman stopped the massage session, the therapist reportedly told her, "I'm sorry, I shouldn't be doing that."

Madigan said she is seeking information from Massage Envy about the company's policies, employee training and handling of complaints related to sexual assault and sexually inappropriate behavior. The chain has 40 Illinois locations and more than 1,100 franchises nationwide.

"I appreciate the women who have reported the sexual assaults they experienced during their massages," Madigan said in a news release. "I issued subpoenas to Massage Envy because the public has a right to know what Massage Envy's policies are and what steps the company takes to prevent and address sexual assaults."

Madigan cited Buzzfeed's report, which was published on Sunday and alleges that more than 180 women nationwide have come forward with accusations against massage therapists who work for the chain.

"Despite multiple lawsuits, police reports and complaints by women, Buzzfeed found that many claims were mishandled, and the company's policies and procedures for reporting and addressing sexual assault allegations were vague or unclear," Madigan said.

The investigation comes as Madigan nears the end of her fourth term as Illinois Attorney General. In September, she announced that she will not seek a fifth term in 2018.