Blizzard Greenberg: Former employees tell of extensive cover–up by franchise
HOUSTON – Three more women have filed a lawsuit saying they were sexually assaulted by a massage therapist at a Massage Envy franchise in Conroe.
That follows last month’s $1 million settlement of two other sexual assault cases tied to the same massage therapist at the same Massage Envy location. In the latest legal case, former employees have come forward with proof of a cover-up by Massage Envy that allowed a number of additional women to become victims.
Click here to view the new lawsuit.
Defendants in the case are the Massage Envy franchise in Conroe, Massage Envy’s corporate headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona, and former massage therapist Jose “Joe” Barajas Franco.
Authorities in Montgomery County charged Mr. Franco with felony sexual assault based on the two earlier cases. He is free on bond while awaiting trial.
The latest victims, identified in the lawsuit as Jane Does 1-3, say the attacker failed to keep them properly covered during their massage sessions and touched them inappropriately. All three women contacted police.
In addition, the lawsuit reveals that multiple former employees reported receiving dozens of similar complaints about Mr. Franco prior to his termination. Although staff members documented the complaints, they say their notes were subsequently deleted from the Massage Envy computer system.
“It is clear to me that franchise owner Mack Miller enabled a predator by ignoring a cascade of complaints about this therapist,” said trial lawyer Anna Greenberg of Blizzard Greenberg PLLC. “What the whistleblowers 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.”
In one instance, a former employee says she consoled a distressed woman who said Mr. Franco had just sexually assaulted her during a massage. According to the lawsuit, the employee notified management, who never documented the complaint in Mr. Franco’s personnel file, nor conducted an investigation.
The case is Jane Doe 1 et al. v FBE Ventures, Inc. et al., cause number 2023-83026 in Harris County District Court.