Sexual assault allegations against massage chain bring back painful memories for TN woman


The largest massage franchise chain in the country is facing dozens of sexual assault allegations.

News 4 reported one of them in Tennessee earlier this year.

Police said Christian Wells admitted to inappropriately touching a woman while he was working at Massage Envy in Brentwood. The woman reported him and he was fired.

Monday, we learned of 180 other allegations against Massage Envy franchises across the country.

The allegations bring back painful memories a Middle Tennessee woman.

Danielle Kendall said she was assaulted by her massage therapist in February 2016 at Adoro Day Spa in Smyrna.

Kendall said she was getting a couples massage by Marco Rigo, when he put his genitals into her open palm.

“I jumped up one point, but then just laid back down because I was still frozen,” Kendall said.

She reported it to the owners.

“None of them took it seriously,” Kendall said.

After one year and several calls to police, Rigo was arrested. He is now facing more than 30 other sexual-related charges.

Kendall said she always knew there were many more victims just like her out there. Still, she was shocked to learn of the more than 100 allegations against Massage Envy franchises across the nation.

“It’s sad that there are so many people that go into the business of massage and chose to violate customers the way they do. It is kind of shocking,” Kendall said.

Heather Meshell with the Nashville Sexual Assault Center said a sexual assault is one of the hardest things to report, but it’s becoming easier.

“People are talking about it. It's not as stigmatized as it once was because we are all realizing the ‘Me Too’ campaign. We are all realizing this affects more people we originally recognized,” Meshell said.

A spokesperson for Massage Envy sent News 4 this statement: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. The article references 180 reported incidents. These occurred over a span of 15 plus years and 125 million massages. But, we believe that even ONE incident is too many, so we are constantly listening, learning, and evaluating how we can continue to strengthen our policies with respect to handling of these issues.News 4 is not aware of any other allegations involving Massage Envy franchises in Tennessee. There are 24 locations across the state.

Copyright 2017 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.



Liz Lohuis joined the News4 team as a general assignment reporter in January 2016.

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