SoCal woman tells of alleged sexual assault at Massage Envy

ByJovana Lara and Lisa Bartley KABC logo
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Massage Envy therapists accused of sexual assault by 180 women
A Southern California woman is one of more than 180 nationwide who allege they were sexually assaulted at locations of the Massage Envy chain.

MENIFEE, Calif. (KABC) -- "Everything is upside down," says Jessica Oglesby of her life after an alleged sexual assault by a massage therapist at the Massage Envy salon in Menifee.

Oglesby is one of more than 180 women nationwide who say they were sexually assaulted by therapists at the chain, which has more than 1.6 million members across the country. The allegations were first reported in a lengthy investigation by BuzzFeed.

Oglesby settled her lawsuit and signed a non-disclosure agreement, but not before she told her story to Eyewitness News, breaking down at times in tears.

"As he was rubbing my thighs, he kept going higher and higher, and then inserted his finger... and it shocked me," Jessica said. "At that time, when the sheet was all the way down, I knew there was no going back. Something was going to happen, and I just froze."

It was November of 2013. Oglesby had worked her way up from being a receptionist at the Menifee salon to becoming a massage therapist. She was getting a massage one evening from a co-worker, a fellow massage therapist who she claims touched her inappropriately.

"He then asked me if I wanted him to go higher," Jessica recalled. "And when he started to, I jumped and said, 'No!'"

The man Oglesby says assaulted her was arrested the next day.

In a police report obtained by Eyewitness News, deputies with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department state that it appeared the man "was not being truthful about the incident."

He giggled at times, and told detectives that he was "trying out a new massage technique." Deputies wrote in their report that they wanted to pursue felony charges against the man, but the District Attorney's Office declined to prosecute, citing a lack of sufficient evidence. Eyewitness News is not naming the man because he was not charged with a crime.

"I believe that massage therapy is like a candy store to predators," Oglesby told Eyewitness News. She settled her lawsuit out of court in June of this year with the owner of the Massage Envy franchise in Menifee. The owner told Eyewitness News that he immediately suspended and later fired the massage therapist in question.

Oglesby's claims against the corporation were dismissed in 2015. The court found that Massage Envy could not be held liable for sexual assaults at its franchise spa because it did not control day-to-day operations.

Oglesby's attorney, Barbara Figari, said Massage Envy requires franchisees to carry $2 million in insurance, including for sexual abuse.

"To me that indicates knowledge that this could happen," Figari said. "And to me that's disturbing."

Oglesby says the incident left her with PTSD and unable to work as a massage therapist.

"When my kids hug me, I tense up. When anybody is near me, I don't want anybody to be near me," she says. "Everything is upside down."

In a statement about the BuzzFeed investigation, Massage Envy told ABC News: "Each of these incidents are heartbreaking for us and for the franchisees that operate Massage Envy locations. With over 15 years and 125 million massages, even one incident is too many. That's why we will never stop reinforcing to our franchisees the importance of a safe environment."