HOUSTON - A woman claims she was taken advantage of and sexually assaulted by her male massage therapist during a session at a Massage Envy location in Houston.
She’s now suing the franchise owner for reportedly allowing the alleged repeat offender to continue ]working.
The woman spoke to FOX 26 exclusively to share her side of the story. She said she was too frightened initially to say anything, but now she wants to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.
Christy Babineaux said she was alarmed when her male massage therapist at Massage Envy Copperfield off Hwy 6, begin touching her inappropriately during a session in late January.
"I went in January and it started out as a regular massage visit. Then this visit, he kind of went underneath the covers. He massaged my breasts which I had no clothing of course. So, I felt really, really uncomfortable. Then he went down even lower to, like, the private part and at this time he told me to turn over, then he massaged me buttocks area," Christy said.
Christy said she got so uncomfortable, she tried to leave but wasn’t able to.
"He told me well I need to crack your back. I feel knots in your back. He told me to stand up. At this time, I’m still undressed. I’m naked. And when I stood up, he kind of came from behind and he put his arms around me from the back and when I turned around, he had his private part out. It was erect and he was like trying to hold me and I started crying. I said what are you doing, you know? Put that away please. And that’s when he said, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I got carried away," Christy said.
"In my mind, I'm thinking how can I get out of here? How can I leave this room without being violated or raped?" Christy continued.
Christy said the man stayed in the room as she got dressed then proceeded to follow her outside to her car. She said she was so afraid, she quickly left without reporting the incident to anyone and went home to tell her husband.
It wasn’t until she called back the location to report the incident that the general manager told her this wasn’t the first time.
Christy's attorneys Kent Schaffer and Andrew Dao are now suing the Massage Envy franchise owner, Guthrie Enterprises, for allowing the man to continue working, even during the investigation.
"The fact that this was something the business was aware of that this man may have had a propensity to do these sorts of things, makes it even more egregious. This is a situation where this lady went to the most mainstream, massage studio in the city, if not in the country. She trusted them, and they betrayed that trust," said Schaffer.
"It’s also important to remember that this case isn’t a 'he said-she said.' It’s something where they’ve admitted to our client that’s happened before. But also, they’ve taken this approach where in the sense of, allowing him to go unchecked and allow him to massage other customers at this location. They're not properly screening these people," Dao said.
In a statement, Massage Envy responded saying, "Massage Envy is committed to promoting a safe environment for members, guests and service providers at each of the over 1,100 franchised locations nationwide. We urge anyone who experiences anything other than a safe, quality massage to report it immediately to the franchised location so that it can be investigated. We cannot comment on pending allegations or litigation involving any independently owned and operated franchised location."
FOX 26 has decided not to name the accused man, because no criminal charges have been filed.
However, on Thursday, Christy's attorneys said she met with police and the Harris County District Attorney's Office to file a criminal report.
FOX 26 also reached out to the franchise owner and general manager at the location several times, but so far, have not heard back.