AVONDALE, Ariz. — When a woman who 12 News is calling Jane Doe walked into a Massage Envy spa in Avondale in 2015, she never expected to become the victim of sexual violence.
But a lawsuit claims that's exactly what happened.
“The whole situation was really confusing. And so I knew it wasn’t right," Doe said.
When she was on her back, she would later tell police the massage therapist allegedly sexually assaulted her. Afraid, in shock, and embarrassed, her lawsuit claims she called the Massage Envy manager the next day.
“I felt at the time when I called and told the manager what had happened, he had my side," Doe said.
She said the manager assured her he would contact police and the Arizona State Board of Massage Therapy. However, days later, she found out none of that had been done.
“My trust that I had in them is non-existent," said Doe.
In a filed response, Massage Envy denies all allegations. In regards to any sexual contact between Jane Doe and the male massage therapist, the response claims it was consensual.
The 12 News I-Team uncovered at least 31 complaints from the Arizona Massage Board involving alleged sexual abuse at the hands of Massage Envy therapists.
Massage Envy declined our request for an on-camera interview. The company sent the following statement via email.
A spokesperson for the company said they've created a safety plan which includes partnering with RAINN, an anti-sexual violence organization, providing clients with contact information for local police, and requiring franchisees to report to state boards when required by law.
“No matter what the complaint is they always sent us a copy of it," said Andrew White, the Arizona Massage Board investigator. "We work from there and it probably wasn’t like that a couple years ago.”
Seven of the 31 alleged assaults were reported within the past year. Some advocates say the company can still do more.
“Evidence degrades over time so if someone reports, it’s important to respond immediately and gather any potential evidence, talk to any potential witnesses because memory degrades over time and evidence degrades over time," said Tasha Menaker of the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence.
Out of all 31 incidents uncovered by the I-Team, at least 16 of them were reported to police. 12 News knows of four which resulted in convictions.
But many more of those cases have been closed due to "lack of evidence."
In Jane Doe's case, Avondale Police submitted a recommendation for charges to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office which declined to prosecute due to "low likelihood of conviction."
In a deposition, Jane Doe said her case was botched because Massage Envy management did not report her alleged sexual assault to police.
“There would have been DNA evidence. There would have been sheets. His fingernails would have been swabbed," Doe said.
Now she, like many alleged survivors, is still trying to cope with what she says happened to her.
“Did I say no? Did I say yes? Did I consent? Why did I stay? Why didn’t I scream? Why am I having to defend myself and answer questions and be interrogated when I did nothing wrong?” Doe said.
She hopes by fighting the company the lawsuit claims is responsible for her sexual assault, she will prompt more change.
“I hope it helps another woman. That’s where my empowerment comes from, is I hope whatever I’m doing makes it so they don’t have to go through this," said Doe.