Woman Sues San Mateo County Massage Envy Over Alleged Sexual Assault by Male Therapist

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Burlingame Massage Envy Owners Sued for 2017 Sexual Assault

Burlingame Massage Envy Owners Sued for 2017 Sexual Assault

Feb 14, 2023

A lawsuit filed last week in San Mateo County Superior Court alleges the owners of a Massage Envy in Burlingame, California, knowingly employed a sexual predator who assaulted multiple women.

In the complaint, plaintiff Jane Epstein alleges a male massage therapist assaulted her in 2017. The lawsuit also states that the spa failed to act to provide a safe environment for female customers, according to a Fox KTVU report. Epstein identified the alleged sexual predator as Justin McKinnon, a massage therapist who was employed at the Burlingame franchise location up until the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The claim also says Jane Epstein’s sexual assault was preventable “because the owners knew they employed a therapist who assaulted another woman in 2013,” KTVU confirmed. CBS News also reported that the Burlingame Massage Envy knew the accused employee had allegedly sexually assaulted another woman in 2013, but never reported the incident to police.

Justin McKinnon continued to work as a therapist at the spa for years,” according to the complaint.

In an interview with KTVU, Epstein shared her story and described the trauma she experienced through the alleged sexual assault.

“He’s a predator,” she said. “I’m not the only one. And how many women has he encountered since me?

Epstein said she visited the Massage Envy franchise in Burlingame in May 2017 and was assigned to McKinnon.

I’ve always started face down and this person had me start face up. And I thought, well, that’s different,” she said.

The court filing alleges that McKinnon sexually assaulted Epstein by inappropriately exposing, groping, and touching her intimate sexual parts.

“You hear about these spas where it’s a happy ending for men, but I never, ever considered something could happen to me going in there,” Epstein added. “I know what I experienced because I experienced it as a child, so I was able to replay it and say ‘Okay, that was sexual assault.'”

“I kept thinking wait, did that just happen? Was that an accident? Oh, no, it’s happening again and again,” Epstein told KTVU. “I went into freeze mode.”

Epstein also noted to KTVU that she chose to reveal her name and show her face in the interview in an effort to “empower other women” who may have been sexually assaulted by McKinnon.

McKinnon’s defense attorney reportedly issued a letter Sunday denying all allegations.

Additional details about the alleged sexual assault provided by Epstein to KTVU include:

  • She hid the sexual assault incident from 2017 until she met another woman who told her “a strikingly similar story.”
  • That woman introduced her to a sexual assault attorney.

There are over 20 women who have been assaulted at the Massage Envy Burlingame that we know about,” Epstein’s lawyer told KTVU.

Massage Envy was reportedly hit with sexual assault lawsuits in 2017 and 2018. Both of those cases settled out of court, according to KTVU. In one of the past cases, the survivor alleged she was assaulted by McKinnon in 2013, but “the owners of the spa in Burlingame allowed him to keep working for years.”

KTVU confirmed that the owners of Massage Envy in Burlingame did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

A Massage Envy spokesperson told CBS KPIX that the company “is committed to promoting a safe environment for members, guests and service providers at each of the approximately 1,100 franchised locations nationwide. We urge anyone who experiences anything other than a safe, quality massage to report it immediately to the franchised location so that it can be investigated.”

“… he’s [McKinnon] still employed there four years later, which allowed Ms. Epstein to be assaulted,” the complainant’s representative said to KTVU.

The sexual assault civil lawsuit filed in San Mateo Superior Court against Massage Envy seeks:

  • Damages for severe emotional distress
  • Punitive damages for a disregard for Epstein’s safety

An official response to the lawsuit has not yet been filed, according to KTVU. In responding to past claims, Massage Envy has reportedly said it is “taking steps to stop and better investigate sexual assaults.”

Epstein told KTVU that she hopes additional survivors impacted by McKinnon will come forward and tell their stories.

“I’m a different person than I was that day. I’m stronger,” Epstein told the news station. “I know what happened in that room. I know.

California AB 2777 Opens 3-Year Window for Adult Sexual Assault Survivors to Sue

New legislation known as California Assembly Bill 2777 (AB 2777) has created a three-year limited window for adult sexual assault survivors to file civil claims for damages. From now until December 31, 2026, survivors may file civil lawsuits for any sexual assault which took place on or after January 1, 2009.

Under AB 2777, a “flood” of lawsuits are expected given that the civil statute of limitations on all sexual violence crimes is effectively paused until the end of 2026.

In addition, AB 277 states that civil actions seeking to recover damages suffered as a result of a sexual assault that occurred on or after the plaintiff’s 18th birthday are revived when:

One or more entities are legally responsible for damages and the entity or their agents engaged in a cover-up, as defined, and any related claims.

Under California AB 2777, a sexual assault cover-up is defined as:

“A concerted effort to hide evidence relating to a sexual assault that incentivizes individuals to remain silent or prevents information relating to a sexual assault from becoming public or being disclosed to the plaintiff, including, but not limited to, the use of nondisclosure agreements or confidentiality agreements.”

In September 2022, shortly after AB 2777 was signed into law by Governor Newsom, Dordulian Law Group’s (DLG) founder and president, Sam Dordulian, hailed the bill as “important and necessary” for survivors of sexual assault to have an opportunity at justice.

“We’ve seen the importance of revival windows in securing justice for childhood survivors with the passage of AB 218. AB 2777 is an equally important step in helping adult survivors of sexual violence obtain the justice they deserve without being deterred by the statute of limitations… The positive impact it will have on survivors simply can’t be overstated,” Dordulian said.

File Your California Sexual Assault Lawsuit Today

For a free and confidential consultation with a DLG sexual assault attorney, contact us today at 866-GO-SEE-SAM. DLG’s four-tiered SAJE Team (Sexual Assault Justice Experts) offers survivors a 24/7 support network in combination with the best legal representation available:

  1. Litigation team of sexual assault lawyers headed by Sam Dordulian, a skilled trial attorney with more than 25 years of experience fighting for justice on behalf of survivors. Dordulian has secured more than 100 jury trial victories and helped clients obtain over $100,000,000.00 in settlements and verdicts.
  2. An in-house Chief Investigator and retired LAPD sex crimes detective with nearly 30 years of experience.
  3. A licensed and accredited victim advocate dedicated to assisting survivors of sexual assault, harassment, and abuse.
  4. An in-house clinical therapist with more than 15 years of experience.

During your sexual assault lawyer consultation, a dedicated DLG team member will review your case and provide you with all available legal options. We will fight tirelessly to secure all applicable damages for your sexual assault case, such as:

  • Hospital expenses
  • Medical care/treatment costs (past and future)
  • Counseling or therapy expenses (past and future)
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma/psychological harm
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Lost wages due to the sexual abuse
  • Lost earning capacity due to the sexual abuse
  • Punitive damages

Contact DLG today at 866-GO-SEE-SAM. Founded by Sam Dordulian – a former sex crimes prosecutor in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office and current member of RAINN’s National Leadership Council – DLG is comprised of a team of California sex crimes attorneys which provides peace of mind through an unparalleled level of proven results. Some of our recent sexual assault case victories include:

Our Sexual Assault Justice Experts are here to help survivors secure justice. Contact our top-rated attorneys online or by phone for a free consultation today.

DLG provides sexual assault legal representation on a contingency fee basis. When you choose our team to handle your AB 2777 sexual assault claim, you won’t have to worry about upfront costs or out-of-pocket expenses. We never collect any fee for our expert legal services until after we successfully secure maximum financial compensation for you.

Go See Sam