Allegations of abuse at Massage Envy led to licenses being revoked.
By Sara Roth
Warning: Graphic content
PORTLAND, Ore. – KGW has confirmed that three Massage Envy therapists have had their licenses revoked in Oregon after sex abuse allegations, as a national investigation into the massage spa franchise sheds light on alleged assaults at Massage Envy locations nationwide. A fourth voluntarily surrendered his license after being accused of sex abuse.
The Oregon Board of Massage Therapists has revoked the licenses of Massage Envy therapists in Bend, Springfield and Portland since 2012, the state board told KGW. The fourth man worked in Clackamas when he gave up his license.
Massage Envy is the largest massage spa chain in the country and employs over 20,000 therapists. There are more than a dozen Massage Envy locations in Oregon, mostly in the Portland metro area.
Buzzfeed published the investigation into Massage Envy on Nov. 26, revealing more than 180 reported sexual assaults at Massage Envy locations across the U.S.
Some clients reported that therapists touched their genitals, groped them, forcefully molested them or ejaculated on them during massages.
The investigation also found that some Massage Envy spas allowed therapists to continue working after being informed of sexual abuse allegations by clients, and worked to avoid interactions with police.
The three Oregon therapists that have had their licenses revoked are Ryan Haynes in Springfield, Benjamin Collura in Portland and Christopher Rosario in Bend. The Oregon Board of Massage Therapists said the three men are the only Massage Envy therapists the board has revoked licenses for.
Another therapist, Sean Elder, surrendered his license voluntarily after he was accused of sex abuse. Elder was sentenced to 60 days in jail for touching a 56-year-old woman's genitals during a massage at Massage Envy in Clackamas in 2015, according to an Oregonian report.
Christopher Rosario, who worked at the Massage Envy in Bend, is currently embroiled in three civil lawsuits and one criminal case related to sex abuse allegations at the massage spa.
The first allegation detailed in the civil lawsuits was reported in October 2015. According to that lawsuit, a client alleged Rosario inserted his fingers into her vagina during a massage. She reported the incident to local police.
Officers began investigating the incident and told Massage Envy of Bend about the allegation, but two more civil lawsuits claim Massage Envy of Bend allowed Rosario to continue working at the spa and assault more women.
One client said she began receiving massage therapy from Rosario in August 2015. Over the course of a couple of months, the client alleged that Rosario asked her inappropriate questions about her sex life and massaged her breast and buttocks, according to the lawsuit. The client said she reported the incidents to Massage Envy of Bend but the reports were dismissed. In March 2016, the client was receiving a hot stone massage when Rosario allegedly tried to insert a stone into her rectum.
The most violent allegations came from a third lawsuit, some details of which were reported in the Buzzfeed investigation.
According to that lawsuit, a client alleged that during a massage in March 2016, Rosario forcefully jammed his hand into her genitals, tried to force his penis in her mouth and then ejaculated on her face during a massage.
The three civil lawsuits filed by Rosario’s former clients seek more than $11 million, combined. Both Rosario and Massage Envy of Bend are named as defendants in the civil suits.
Rosario faces several criminal charges for sex abuse, unlawful sexual penetration and sodomy related to the assaults at Massage Envy. His criminal trial is scheduled for January 2018.
Massage Envy of Bend is a franchisee of the Massage Envy corporation. A lawyer for the Bend franchisee has not returned a call for comment.
Ryan Haynes was accused of sexually assaulting a woman at the Springfield Massage Envy in 2012. He was arrested on sex abuse charges related to the assault in 2012, according to a document from the Oregon Board of Massage Therapists, but returned to work at Massage Envy and was accused of groping another woman in 2013.
Benjamin Collura was arrested in March 2016 for 11 counts of sex abuse involving six women who he massaged between 2012 and 2015. Collura worked at two Massage Envy locations and the Rivers Edge Hotel and Spa in Portland. According to an Oregonian report, Collura targeted victims at a Massage Envy location in the Lloyd District and the hotel in Southwest Portland. He was sentenced to two years in jail.
The Oregon Board of Massage does not publicly reveal ongoing investigations but other Massage Envy therapists have been disciplined for lesser sexual misconduct issues.
One therapist, Robert Purkiewicz, was working at the Sherwood Massage Envy in 2013 when a client said he kissed and hugged her without her consent, massaged under her underwear and made sexual comments, according to the board's disciplinary order. The spa manager supported the client's claims and Purkiewicz told a board investigator he "was unclear about appropriate boundaries," according to the order.
Purkiewicz was ordered to pay $1,000 to the board, attend a two-day training, read the book "The Ethics of Touch" and undergo peer supervision for six months. He is still licensed to practice massage in Oregon but no longer works at Massage Envy.
Massage therapists in Oregon are not required to tell the board where they work, as therapists don't need to be employed by a larger organization when they practice massage. A spokesman for the Oregon Board of Massage said staff are hand-sorting disciplinary actions to find out whether more Massage Envy therapists have been disciplined in the past five years.
To find out whether a massage therapist has been disciplined, search the board's online database here.
Massage Envy released a statement and said the company is “looking at how we can do more” to better handle reported assaults.
“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. It’s why we are constantly listening, learning and looking at how we can do more, including how we support franchised locations with best practices in handling these incidents and supporting their clients,” the company said.
John Tierney contributed to this report.
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Published November 27, 2017