TARGET 8: Victims of sexual assault at mid-Missouri massage businesses raise questions

3 months 3 weeks 1 day ago Thursday, February 01 2018 Feb 1, 2018 Thursday, February 01, 2018 5:52:00 PM CST February 01, 2018 in News
By: Claire Kopsky, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA- An increase in the national conversation about sexual assault has more victims of inappropriate behavior speaking out about mid-Missouri massage therapy businesses.

KOMU 8’s investigation began during the fall of 2017 after it was announced the Relax Station massage parlor in Columbia was facing a lawsuit due to an employee being charged with sexual assault. The employee did not have a license to perform massage therapy in Missouri, nor in Florida where there is a cease and desist order against him for practicing without a license.

The US does not have a national regulator for massage therapists or massage therapy businesses. There is, however, a Board of Therapeutic Massage in the state of Missouri that licenses therapists and businesses. Missouri’s Professional Registration website features a search tool allowing anyone to search for active licenses of therapists and businesses.  

Angela McPike, a Columbia resident, used to frequent Relax Station in the Columbia Mall, and has been to other massage businesses, often with coupons to save money.

McPike, who has been enjoying massages her whole life, reached out to KOMU wanting to tell her story about her experience with a Groupon coupon that led her to a man’s home.

“Whenever I pulled up to the address, it turned out to be a house and I was just kind of sitting there in the driveway and thinking, "Oh, this is kind of weird,'" McPike said.

The therapist came outside in scrubs and waved McPike in. 

“It was just the normal thing to do. Like, I will admit that whenever I pulled up and it was a house and then it turned out to be a man I felt like pulling away but, it just, you know, it seemed like the normal thing to do,” said McPike. “Like I would have to explain myself, why did you just pull off with no reason you know, we had an appointment set.” 

Due to the way Groupon functions, McPike had already paid for her massage when she printed the coupon. 

McPike said the interaction inside home seemed normal and the space was clean. She saw the therapist’s license posted on the wall, so she went into the massage room. She said it was not until about halfway through the 60-minute massage that she knew something was really wrong.

“It started off pretty gradual because I didn’t feel like the draping was quite appropriate but it was kind of a small thing so I didn’t think too much of it at the time,” said McPike. “I was just like, ‘he’s no good at draping.’ But it wasn’t really until halfway through that it got to the point where I was like, this is incredibly inappropriate and there’s you know, there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that this is on purpose.”

McPike said the inappropriate touching continued escalating during the second half of the massage but she did not feel she could move. 

“I definitely thought about leaving a million time a second, it seems like. I was just like, ‘okay if I get up and leave’…and and I just had all these thoughts going through my head of ‘Will he hurt me?’ ‘Will I have time to put my clothes on?’ ‘Will I be able to get my keys?’ You know, and I was even thinking, ‘I’ll leave my purse here, I’ll get a new phone,’ McPike said. “And I did at one point think ‘I’ll just run out there naked and someone will stop.’ And I just couldn’t do it. I just felt like I was frozen.”

Once the massage was over, McPike said the inappropriate behavior stopped. 

“He just said we’re done and then he left and I put my clothes on and I was just like shaking. And the minute I walked out of the door, I was like ‘Oh my god, I made it.’”

KOMU reached out to the man who gave McPike the massage. He declined to comment on the record about the incident.

Using the massage license number he gave KOMU and his full name, a quick search on the Missouri Professional Registration website showed the man has an active license through the beginning of 2019.

If you’re searching in Columbia, the man’s company is one of the top searches on Groupon with dozens of reviews and a five star rating.

“I have not had a massage since then," McPike said, "But I like massage, I hope to be able to go back and what’s so sad about it is it’s supposed to be something you’re doing for yourself to try and cope with things. It’s self care to make yourself feel better and we just need to be safe.”

Buzzfeed’s national investigation into Massage Envy showed 180 women have filed sexual assault reports against the company.

KOMU tried to find out how many of those reports are from Missouri. Missouri’s Board of Therapeutic Massage denied the request for reports against Massage Envy but told KOMU in the past five years, 104 complaints were filed regarding massage therapy businesses and 38 complaints regarding massage therapists. 

Next, KOMU looked at court cases filed by defendants against Massage Envy. Of the four KOMU found, one case was dismissed by the parties involved, another dismissed by the court and the other two cases are still ongoing. One of those cases started as a sexual assault allegation from a St. Louis location.

Another woman who was willing to share her story was a victim of an inappropriate massage at Columbia’s Massage Envy in February of last year. She said she didn’t know she could file a report with the Board of Therapeutic Massage.

“I had no idea that I could even do that. It never crossed my mind it would be ultimately kind of a government issue,” she said.

Through a phone call with Massage Envy, the victim verified in December the man who gave her the massage is no longer employed at Massage Envy in Columbia. 

Through another quick search using the Missouri Professional Registration website, KOMU verified the victim’s therapist still has an active license in the state of Missouri proving individuals may have a license, but that doesn’t mean the therapist is performing appropriate massages.

The woman with the alleged sexual assault at Massage Envy summed up the sentiment from all the victims KOMU spoke to.

“Do what you need to do to make sure that you’re safe and not worry about how it’s going to be perceived by other people if you insult someone by thinking that they’re a creep, it’s better to apologize for that than to live for the rest of your life knowing that you have been assaulted by someone,” she said.

More News

Grid
List
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) - A Missouri judge is weighing whether a secretive nonprofit group that supports Gov. Eric Greitens' agenda... More >>
3 days ago Wednesday, May 23 2018 May 23, 2018 Wednesday, May 23, 2018 1:08:00 PM CDT May 23, 2018 in News
COLE COUNTY - The Cole County Prosecutor's Office filed charges Wednesday against a man suspected of having pipe bombs and... More >>
3 days ago Wednesday, May 23 2018 May 23, 2018 Wednesday, May 23, 2018 10:30:00 AM CDT May 23, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) - Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Parson says he will be ready to step up if Gov. Eric... More >>
3 days ago Wednesday, May 23 2018 May 23, 2018 Wednesday, May 23, 2018 9:48:00 AM CDT May 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA- The city of Columbia will hold the first of seven community policing meetings Wednesday evening. Each meeting is set... More >>
3 days ago Wednesday, May 23 2018 May 23, 2018 Wednesday, May 23, 2018 7:34:00 AM CDT May 23, 2018 in News
BOLIVAR (AP) — The Missouri State Highway Patrol says an 87-year-old man died after a small plane he was piloting... More >>
3 days ago Wednesday, May 23 2018 May 23, 2018 Wednesday, May 23, 2018 6:39:00 AM CDT May 23, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) - Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens was pulled over Friday while speeding. Spokesman Parker Briden in a... More >>
4 days ago Tuesday, May 22 2018 May 22, 2018 Tuesday, May 22, 2018 6:21:00 PM CDT May 22, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY – The next phase of a new VA facility in Jefferson City is underway. Jefferson City Council... More >>
4 days ago Tuesday, May 22 2018 May 22, 2018 Tuesday, May 22, 2018 6:16:00 PM CDT May 22, 2018 in News
KAISER - One family says it is facing an immigration nightmare. Jia McDevitt's parents were detained at the Jacksonville, Florida, port... More >>
4 days ago Tuesday, May 22 2018 May 22, 2018 Tuesday, May 22, 2018 5:20:00 PM CDT May 22, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - MUPD hosted a Citizen's Response to Active Threats training Tuesday. MU senior Olivia Botonis said learning about... More >>
4 days ago Tuesday, May 22 2018 May 22, 2018 Tuesday, May 22, 2018 5:05:00 PM CDT May 22, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) - Like actors rehearsing a script, Missouri lawmakers on Tuesday publicly read aloud the previously secret criminal... More >>
4 days ago Tuesday, May 22 2018 May 22, 2018 Tuesday, May 22, 2018 4:35:00 PM CDT May 22, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA- Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Parson toured Columbia Tuesday afternoon to visit new business locations and talk about everything from... More >>
4 days ago Tuesday, May 22 2018 May 22, 2018 Tuesday, May 22, 2018 3:42:00 PM CDT May 22, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) - A Missouri environmental group is suing to overturn a law that lengthens the process the Department... More >>
4 days ago Tuesday, May 22 2018 May 22, 2018 Tuesday, May 22, 2018 2:56:00 PM CDT May 22, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A jury trial in a wrongful death lawsuit in Carl DeBrodie's death is scheduled to begin March 2,... More >>
4 days ago Tuesday, May 22 2018 May 22, 2018 Tuesday, May 22, 2018 1:20:00 PM CDT May 22, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia City Council failed to pass the controversial Henderson Branch sewer project in a 3-3 vote Monday... More >>
4 days ago Tuesday, May 22 2018 May 22, 2018 Tuesday, May 22, 2018 10:49:00 AM CDT May 22, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — The Latest on allegations against Gov. Eric Greitens (all times local): 5:35 p.m. ... More >>
4 days ago Tuesday, May 22 2018 May 22, 2018 Tuesday, May 22, 2018 10:12:00 AM CDT May 22, 2018 in News
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Springfield police say an 8-year-old girl who hadn't been seen since early Tuesday has been found... More >>
4 days ago Tuesday, May 22 2018 May 22, 2018 Tuesday, May 22, 2018 8:36:00 AM CDT May 22, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - In the wake of the deadly Santa Fe High School shooting , the MU Police Department will be... More >>
4 days ago Tuesday, May 22 2018 May 22, 2018 Tuesday, May 22, 2018 7:43:00 AM CDT May 22, 2018 in News
BRUSSELS (AP) — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faces senior European Union lawmakers later Tuesday to answer questions about a... More >>
4 days ago Tuesday, May 22 2018 May 22, 2018 Tuesday, May 22, 2018 5:22:00 AM CDT May 22, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 80°
9pm 81°
10pm 79°
11pm 75°
12am 75°