A massage therapist sexually assaulted Virginia mother and professor Danielle Dick in 2015, and after she made the allegations against the male therapist, the company who represented him allegedly offered her a refund on the service and refused to contact authorities.
What are the details of the assault?
According to WTVR-TV, the alleged incident occurred at a Massage Envy franchise in Richmond, Virginia, in fall 2015.
Dick told WTVR that during her massage, she was assaulted by the therapist, and immediately, internally questioned what happened.
"At first you think, 'Well that was a little odd, did his hand just slip?'" she said.
Dick elaborated, "It takes a while for your brain to catch up and realize, 'Oh no, this is what is going on.'"
In an October blog post, Dick wrote, "In the end I found myself with a masseuse’s hand around my throat, and then face down with his hand covering my mouth while he violated me."
She revealed in her blog post that at the end of the massage, the therapist — who she named as Daeshawn Bullard — reportedly said, "Our little secret, OK?"
How did the company respond?
Dick initially reported the incident to the company, which allegedly offered her a refund and a penalty-free membership cancellation in response.
"We understand that you were unhappy with your massage experience, so we won’t charge you for the massage, and if you’d like to cancel your membership, we won’t charge you a penalty fee," Dick said the manager told her.
Dick added that the manager refused to contact authorities and said that the matter would be handled in-house.
After the company refused to file a report, Dick reported the incident to law enforcement on her own.
Dick, addressing the incident, said, "For a long time, I changed the way I went to the grocery store and I changed all my errands so that I wouldn’t have to drive by it, but it is virtually impossible not to drive by a Massage Envy, they are all over the place."
“It would make me sick to my stomach every time I passed a store, or saw an advertisement," she added.
What were the legal ramifications?
Dick said that after an 11-month-long legal battle, Bullard was convicted of felony sexual assault two years after she filed the report against the masseuse.
Bullard was sentenced to five years in prison.
A statement to WTVR, provided by Massage Envy, read:
We are deeply concerned by this and, although this is an active legal case and we can't comment on the specifics, we have reached out to Ms. Dick, through her counsel, to continue to listen to and better understand her concerns and ideas.
We can tell you that we expect franchisees to treat every member and guest with dignity and respect, and that includes support for reporting incidents to law enforcement.
As leaders in the industry, we are passionate about developing and maintaining our policies for every franchisee as they screen and train their therapists, with the goal of stopping preventable incidents of inappropriate conduct at Massage Envy franchise locations.
We know that the members and guests that come to Massage Envy franchise locations put trust in the franchisee's licensed or certified therapist that performs each service.
So, we are always looking to build on and improve those standards in order to create the safest and highest quality customer experience in the industry.