Five Oregon Massage Envy therapists accused of sexual misconduct and assault since 2012
On Tuesday, KATU discovered massage therapists at five Massage Envy locations in Oregon have been accused of sexual misconduct since 2012.
The company faces accusations of sexual assault and misconduct from more than 180 people throughout the U.S. according to Buzzfeed News.
Massage Envy says, "These occurred over a span of 15 plus years and 125 million massages. But we believe that even ONE incident is too many..."
Through court records and Oregon's Board of Massage Therapists, KATU found that five therapists at five Massage Envy locations throughout the state have faced sexual misconduct allegations.
Four of the therapists lost their licenses. One has a license that's still active.
At least three of the locations are in the Portland metropolitan area. The other two are in Bend and Eugene.
Massage Envy would not comment on the individual cases but says all of its workers are required to go through an accredited background check before they're hired.
Greg Kafoury, an attorney in Portland, is representing nine women in lawsuits against Massage Envy.
"It's grotesque to talk about," Kafoury told KATU. "Of course, this is the tip of the iceberg because people don't like to report. It's a scary thing to call out someone like that."
Kafoury said eight of his clients' cases involve accusations against Benjamin Collura, 34.
Between 2010 and 2013 authorities said he worked at Massage Envy spas in John's Landing and the Lloyd District, where he was accused of targeting victims. He was also accused of targeting clients at River's Edge Hotel & Spa.
"Collura would put his hands on women's sexual parts, rub himself up against them, that sort of thing," Kafoury said.
Collura's massage therapist license is suspended.
He was convicted of four counts of third-degree sex abuse in January.
Kafoury's ninth client is suing a Massage Envy on Sunnyside Road in Clackamas over accusations against another former therapist, Sean Elder, 35.
"Sean Elder abused my client unbelievably and she was shattered by the experience," Kafoury said.
Elder surrendered his license. He was convicted of two counts of third-degree sex abuse in June.
"People were really freaked out," Kafoury explained regarding his clients. "They freeze. They don't know what to do."
He said the expectations that come with the professional setting of a spa and a licensed therapist increase the devastation on alleged victims.
"They're in an atmosphere where they're completely relaxed, encouraged to relax," Kafoury said. "They're expecting to be treated respectfully. ...They're completely vulnerable. They've taken their clothes off. All of the sudden everything's going wrong. It's an ugly business."
In court records, KATU discovered a Massage Envy on Cedar Hills Boulevard in Beaverton settled a lawsuit in 2015 in an undisclosed agreement. A woman accused a therapist named Jeffrey Wing of sexual assault. Wing was never criminally charged and his license is still active. But state records show the licensing board put him on six months' probation in 2003 in a separate sexual misconduct case. In a stipulated final order, the board says Wing inappropriately touched a client of Dosha Salon on Northwest Glisan Street repeatedly in Portland in September of 2002.
Massage Envy did not immediately respond to questions about whether Wing still works for the company.
In Eugene, a former Massage Envy therapist named Ryan Haynes lost his license after two women accused him of sexual assault in 2012 and 2013. Police arrested him in one of the cases in 2012 but charges were not filed.
Two women are suing a Massage Envy in Bend for about $11 million over accusations involving a former therapist named Christopher Rosario, 39. He pleaded not guilty to nine sex crime charges in the case last year. A third woman filed a lawsuit involving Rosario in October for more than $500,000.
Massage Envy sent KATU the following 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.”
Oregon's Board of Massage Therapists is working on fixing a glitch KATU found on its website. We discovered it's difficult if not impossible to look up disciplinary records for spas by entering the business's name. You generally have to know the first and last name of each individual massage therapist. While it's being fixed, the board recommends giving them a call to run a background check at 503-365-8657.