HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Nearly 200 people are claiming to have been sexually assaulted at a Massage Envy, one of the largest massage chains in the country with six locations in the Richmond area.
In 2015, 8News told you about a masseuse employed by the chain who was indicted for sexual battery and forcible sexual object penetration. Now, that victim is speaking out, trying to get justice for others.
VCU professor Danielle Dick said she was a member at the Willow Lawn branch for well over a year before the assault occurred. Her October 4 appointment in 2015 started a nightmare that she hopes others never have to experience.
“Absolute shock and disbelief,” Dick recalled. “It wasn’t until the masseuse had his hand on my throat and pulled my head up and then proceeded to put his hand over my mouth and assault me that I could even fathom what was happening.”
When the assault was over, Dick remembers the exact words the suspect — 24-year-old Daeshawn Bullard — said to her.
“He leaned over into my ear and said our little secret,” she said.
“He leaned over into my ear and said our little secret.”
Dick said she immediately got dressed and spoke with a manager.
“She was a deer in headlights,” Dick recalled. “It was clear she was shocked and didn’t really know how to handle the situation. She offered me water and she just kept repeating Massage Envy has a zero-tolerance policy and will handle it internally.”
The following day, Dick got a call from corporate.
“They understood I was unhappy with my massage experience so they wouldn’t charge me for it,” she explained.
Dick also reported the incident to police.
“It was hard to keep an outward facing appearance,” she said. “It was a hard year to be going through the criminal proceedings and try to maintain the other pieces of my life.”
Roughly two years later, Dick is still fighting to help other victims. She’s filed a civil suit against the massage chain.
“To get Massage Envy to put policies in place to protect its customers and support individuals who are assaulted,” she said.
Dick said she still receives advertisements from the company.
“It’s traumatizing to be going through your mail and you’ve experienced like this have a sudden reminder that this is not a corporation that is not taking sexual assault seriously,” she said.
With little response from Massage Envy, Dick decided to start an online petition with change.org. So far, it’s garnered 55,000 signatures.
“A critical mass of us saying this isn’t OK,” she explained. “They can’t continue to operate in this way. Hopefully they will put better policies in place to protect their clients and support individuals in the God forbid instance someone is assaulted.”