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Don’t Touch Me There

Massage Envy Has Been Exposing Customers to Sexual Assault for Decades. NOW WHAT?


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Two Women Assaulted at Houston Massage Envy Receive $1 Million.

Let’s first take a look at the breaking case in Houston. On January 31, 2024, Jane Doe 3, a woman alleging she was sexually assaulted by a male therapist at a Houston area Massage Envy in 2022, added her charges to the growing list of plaintiffs taking legal action to hold local franchise owners responsible for harboring repeat predators in secret for many years.

The newest case builds on the original lawsuit, which resulted in Jane Doe 1 & Jane Doe 2’s being awarded $1 million by a local franchise owner on October 30, 2023.1

If you were sexually assaulted by a Massage Envy therapist, anywhere in the U.S., or subjected to indecent exposure, inappropriately touched, or groped, please tell your story to someone you trust, someone like us, in utter confidence. Emotionally, pursing a Massage Envy lawsuit is the best way to heal a very deep wound and start to take your power back.


“It was a full-blown assault. I mean, he went in hard and aggressive,” Jane Doe 3 told local NBC reporters, in tears. “You’re in a private, dark room [with a stranger] and you just don’t know what to do.” 1

Houston-Area Massage Envy Lawsuit Demonstrates a Grim National Pattern.

The Houston cases are representative of what’s going on all across the country, year after year, at the largest massage therapy franchise in America. That’s why we’re still talking about it. Plaintiffs say Massage Envy didn’t properly screen therapists and turned a blind eye when grievous sexual assault incidents were reported.

Jane Doe 1 & 2 came forward in July 2022 within two weeks of each other, not knowing the other and without knowing the other’s experience but assaulted by the same man, Jose (“Joe”) Barajas Franco at the same location in Conroe.

Jane Doe 3 later reported going for massages every few weeks for 12 years at a Massage Envy near the Houston Galleria after she was diagnosed with lupus, a disorder that causes painful joint swelling.

But all that changed in February 2022. Jane 3’s regular female therapist was unavailable, so she wound up with a male in his 20s. “You don’t know if you’re going to be raped or how far it’s going to go,” she told NBC reporters.2

Former Employees Point to a Massive Cover-Up.

“What the whistleblowers [in Houston] show is that there was an extensive cover-up to protect the brand and ensure that other unsuspecting women would not become aware of the danger. Already, we know of at least five women who were assaulted. The question is whether there are more cases since sexual assaults often go unreported.”

One former employee said she took pages of notes after each complaint but that a week later the notes would be deleted.

Meanwhile, Christina Schirtzinger, a Chicago survivor and Ironman triathlete, described how massage therapy was an essential part of her training for so long. Then she was digitally raped on December 12, 2020, by James R. (Rob) Garrett, a Massage Envy therapist with a criminal record.3

“I immediately told him to stop. The moment was so surreal I couldn’t even comprehend what had just happened to me… This didn’t happen in a back alley at midnight. This happened someplace I felt so safe. Massage Envy allowed a convicted felon to be in the room with me. My assault was completely preventable.”

– Christina Schirtzinger

Warning Signs of a Massage Encounter About to Go Wrong.

Women who were harmed say they had trusted Massage Envy for years. The massage-gone-wrong usually started with the masseur not draping their body properly, leaving them feeling awkwardly exposed.

“Sexual abuse and harassment are not unique to the massage therapy profession, but the physical intimacy involved in hands-on bodywork heightens the level of vulnerability for a client,” says Dr. Ben E. Benjamin, an expert medical witness.4

Here are some serious pointers he advised to help keep you safe.



  • Leave your underpants on to protect your genital region – both to protect your privacy and to avoid the risk of the therapist accidentally touching the genital region.
  • Your masseur should not be in the room when you disrobe.


  • When clothing is removed, draping must be used appropriately.
  • Draping means that the areas of the body not being treated are completely and securely covered with a blanket, sheet, or towel.
  • The therapist’s hands should never go under the drape.

Genital Region

  • The genital region should always be covered securely.


  • Breasts should always be covered.
  • Nipples should NEVER be massaged.

Situational Awareness

  • As soon as you feel, observe, or sense any of the warning signs described here, stop the session immediately.
  • If in doubt, don’t remain silent.
  • You can simply say, “Stop!” Then sit up, keeping your body covered by holding the drape. As the client, you are always entitled to ask a therapist to stop what they’re doing, and end the session—at any time, for any reason.
  • If you suspect there’s been an honest mistake, talk to the therapist about why you felt uncomfortable and ask him to adjust.

How We Can Help.

A Case for Women was founded eight years ago by two women (a mother/daughter team); we were the first legal advocates to focus exclusively on civil legal issues unique to women.

Our mission is empowering women to access the civil court system and help take their power back through legal action. We want to hear your story in utmost confidence and connect you with an experienced and compassionate national law firm.

Since we started, we’ve helped over 10,000 women seek justice and financial compensation to help with injuries suffered as a result of someone’s neglect, e.g., Uber/LyftSexual Assault; Essure Birth Control; Trafficking; and Latter-Day Saints Sexual Assault, to name a few of dozens of causes we’ve taken up.

ACFW will also remain available to you throughout the duration of your case, no matter what the time frame, to answer any questions you feel more comfortable talking to us about. For our services, we charge you nothing. Ever.



  1. Bryce Newberry, “Therapist accused of sexually assaulting woman with lupus at Houston-area Massage Envy,” NBC Click2 News Houston, January 31, 2024

  2. Sherman Desselle, “Update: Former Conroe employees expose alleged cover-up in Massage Envy Sexual Assault Scandal,” Fox26 News Houston, December 1, 2023

  3. Tara Molina, “Kane County Woman Sues Massage Envy, says therapist with criminal record violated her,” CBS News Chicago, November 30, 2022

  4. Dr. Ben E. Benjamin, “What I’ve Learned as an Expert Witness: Sexual Abuse in the Treatment Room,” (Forensic, General & Medical Expert Witnesses), January 2019