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Denver massage studio takes a stand after sex assault scandal at Massage Envy

Her message to customers: 'This is not OK'
Posted at 8:32 PM, Dec 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-04 22:35:18-05

DENVER -- The owner of a Downtown Denver massage studio is taking a stand against the sexual accusations at Massage Envy.

"This has damaged our industry," said Sandy Stroehmann, owner of Elixir Mind Body Massage.

Stroehmann wrote a letter to her customers about the scandal after a BuzzFeed News Investigation found more than 100 women across the country have accused its massage therapists of sexual assault.

The headline of her blog post reads: "When a Massage Industry Giant Allows Sexual Abuses to Continue Uninterrupted."

"We felt it was important that Elixir Mind Body Massage address the breaking story of more than 180 people across the United States that have filed sexual assault lawsuits, police reports and other sexual misconduct complaints against Massage Envy spas, the national company, and their employees, according to an investigative report by the website BuzzFeed News," her letter goes on to say.

"If there were to be an alleged sexual assault that happened here and you were made aware of it, by law you don't have to report it?" asked Denver7 reporter Jennifer Kovaleski.

"No, I don't," explained Stroehmann,

"But do you think you should?" asked Kovaleski.

"Absolutely, yes on a basic human level — yes," said Stroehmann.

She believes Massage Envy should have done more and says a lot of spas do.

"If you're in this industry and you allow something like this to happen at a business level your either naive or negligent or both," she said.

At Elixir Stroehmann said their policy is clear, inappropriate sexual misconduct is not tolerated but with an industry giant ignoring the issue for years.

"I think it's probably under-reported," she said.

Stroehmann said she felt she had to take a stand to make sure her clients feel safe.

"Ethics are a huge part of this industry and not all therapists and not all massage studios are this way," she said.

Denver7 has uncovered at least three cases of alleged sexual assault at Colorado Massage Envy locations.

The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies or DORA regulates individual massage therapists who are licensed by the state.

Over the last five years, DORA said approximately 68 massage therapists had been disciplined for sexual misconduct violations, including those accused of prostitution.

To get a massage therapist license in Colorado, applicants must pass a background check, and the state regulatory agency is alerted of any arrests.

However, Denver7 has learned if a customer reports an alleged sexual assault to the spa itself. Massage facilities have no legal obligation to report sexual assault claims made on their premises.