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Dec 132017

Massage Spas & Sexual Assault

Last month, sexual assault lawsuits and claims against massage businesses reached a fever pitch after an explosive news article by a BuzzFeed reporter. According to the report, over 180 women have alleged that a massage therapist at a Massage Envy location sexually assaulted them. In many instances, the women have alleged that the business did not report the incident to law enforcement.

A local Pennsylvania woman and Laffey, Bucci & Kent client, Susan Ingram is one of multiple women who have sued Massage Envy. Our firm is representing 20 women for sex assault by a massage therapist at Massage Envy.  Ingram and other women around the country are alleging that the franchise is liable for failing to prevent assaults because it had prior knowledge of sexual misconduct by specific massage therapists.

In Ingram’s case, she was sexually assaulted at a Massage Envy location in West Chester, Pennsylvania. She immediately reported the incident to local police who later arrested the massage therapist, James Deiter. He pled guilty to charges that he assaulted a total of 9 women.

Reporting Sex Assault at a Massage Parlor or Spa

Ingram has been working with Pennsylvania Senator Pat Meehan to enact legislation that would require massage spa businesses to report sex assault by a massage therapist or employee. The Duty to Report Sexual Assault Act of 2017 (H.R. 1023) would create criminal penalties, fines between $500-$1500 and/or jail time up to 6 months, when a massage business fails to report sexual assault by a massage therapist. H.R. 1023 was introduced earlier this year by Meehan and a senator from Massachusetts. See below for the full text of the Duty to Report Sexual Assault Act of 2017.

More: Massage Envy Sex Assault Victims Lawsuits, Laffey, Bucci & Kent Makes National News (Nov. 2017)

Currently, there is no federal law which requires businesses to report sexual assault by an employee to law enforcement. Most states have no legislation addressing this issue. Massage spa employees who commit acts of sexual misconduct are often able to move from business to business because allegations of abuse are never even reported to massage therapist licensing boards.

Contact Senator Meehan To Support H.R. 1023

H.R. 1023 has been referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations. Since March of 2017, no action has been taken on this bill. Contact Mr. Meehan and let him know you support victims’ rights. You can email him directly through his website at https://meehan.house.gov/contact/email-me.

For more information, visit the Sex Abuse Victims’ Law Library.

Text of H.R. 1023

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be referred to as the “Duty to Report Sexual Assault Act of 2017”.


(a) Establishment.–Chapter 73 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

Sec. 1522. Failure of a massage establishment owner or employee to report sexual assault

(a) Whoever, being the owner or employee of a massage establishment–

(1)(A) knows or reasonably suspects that another employee of the massage establishment sexually assaulted another person on the premises of, or while performing services on behalf of, the massage establishment; and

(B) fails to report to such knowledge or reasonable suspicion to the appropriate law enforcement agency; or

(2) in the case of an owner of a massage establishment, fails to display in a manner that is visible to customers of such establishment the policies and procedures of such establishment relating to sexual assault prevention and response, including the policy or procedure relating to reporting sexual assaults to the appropriate law enforcement agency, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).

(b) The punishment for an offense–

(1) under subsection (a)(1), is a fine in an amount not more than $1,500, imprisonment for a period of not more than six months, or both; and

(2) under subsection (a)(2), is a fine in an amount not more than $500.

(c) In this section:

(1) The term “massage establishment” means any establishment that offers for sale massage services.

(2) The term “sexual assault” means a Federal, tribal, or State offense, by whatever designation and wherever committed, consisting of assault with intent to commit rape; aggravated sexual abuse and sexual abuse (as described in sections 2241 and 2242); or abusive sexual contact (as described in section 2242).

(d) Nothing in this section requires a law enforcement officer to whom a report is made of a sexual assault described in subsection (a)(1)(A) to investigate or charge an individual with an offense without the consent of the alleged victim of such offense.

(b) Clerical Amendment.–The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 73 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new item:

1522. Failure of a massage establishment owner or employee to report sexual assault.

(c) Effective Date.–This Act shall take effect 120 days after the date of enactment.