Local massage school reacts to Massage Envy lawsuits - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Local massage school reacts to Massage Envy lawsuits

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Dozens are accusing massage therapists who work at Massage Envy of sexual misconduct.  Accusations claim the company and its franchises mishandled or ignored more than 180 sexual misconduct cases nationwide.

Just last December, a 22-year-old woman accused 33-year-old Christopher Ehret of sexually assaulting her  during a session at Message Envy in Fitchburg.  Back in June, that former massage therapist was sentenced to three years probation and jail for sexual assault of a client.  He's also now listed as a sex offender.

"180 cases, very bad," Dr. Xiping Zhou said. "So, we don't want anything to happen at East West."  After sixteen years of teaching students how to give a professional massage, the owner and founder of East West Healing Arts Institute in Madison is deeply frustrated by the lawsuits.

"Be careful when we giving massages," he told students in one class.

Dr. Zhou says that starts with therapists creating barriers, exposing only the bare skin being worked on.

"Make sure they are comfortable with the pressure, comfortable with the technique, with the draping, they communicate both ways," Dr. Zhou siad.

If you're having a massage for the first time, Dr. Zhou says the teaching setting may be the best to make you feel the most comfortable.

"The students give the massage all the time under the supervision of the instructor." Dr. Zhou said.

State law prohibits touching in private areas.
"This is shocking news, we need to be more cafeful, this profession is just like any other profession, it has nothing to do with sex," he said.

Students receive more than 800 hours to become a licensed massage therapist.

At East West, a chunk of that time is devoted to business ethics that review best safety standards.

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