CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — A Chesterfield massage therapist received a suspended prison sentence Wednesday after being found guilty of assaulting a woman he was giving a massage to last year at the Massage Envy in Henrico County.
Anthony Contino was arrested on Sept. 30, 2019. The victim says he sexually assaulted her at the Massage Envy on Pouncey Tract Rd on Aug. 1, 2019.
Contino was charged with aggravated sexual battery but was found guilty of a misdemeanor assault. He was given 12 months but will only spend six months behind bars. Contino was also stripped of his massage therapist license.
The victim’s personal attorney, Stewart Ryan with the Laffey Bucci & Kent firm based in Philadelphia, said there is an ongoing “epidemic” within the country’s largest massage chain. The client accusing Contino is just one of more than 100 women his firm represents around the country with allegations against Massage Envy therapists.
“The reality is that sexual assaults occurred, and are still occurring at Massage Envy’s across the country,” he told 8News Wednesday.
In 2017, Buzzfeed published an investigation that said more than 180 women nationwide have reported sexual assaults at Massage Envy’s.
Danielle Dick is one of them.
In 2015, Dick, a VCU professor, was sexually assaulted at one of the chain’s locations. “Absolute shock and disbelief,” Dick recalled at the time. “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.
“Hopefully they will put better policies in place to protect their clients.”
Her massage therapist was eventually convicted of sexual battery and forcible sexual object penetration.
After the Buzzfeed story was circulated in 2017, the chain created a “Safety Council” in response.
Stewart Ryan said not much has changed since then. “What we’ve alleged in lawsuits, where we represent survivors of sexual assault at Massage Envy, is that they haven’t done anything. And what they claim to be doing in and of itself is certainly not sufficient,” he said.
8News has reached out to Massage Envy for comment. We have yet to hear back.
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