Victim of sex assault at Fitchburg massage business speaks out - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Victim of sex assault at Fitchburg massage business speaks out

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MADISON (WKOW) -- For the first time, the victim of a sex crime at a Fitchburg massage business speaks out, and trusts a growing climate of accountability over sexual misdeeds will help her and others.

While a customer at a Massage Envy franchise location in Fitchburg in December, this 23-year-old woman was sexually assaulted by state-licensed massage therapist Christopher Ehrett, 34. 

"I just froze and felt very alone and broken,"  the woman says.  In line with almost universal journalistic practice, 27 News is not identifying this sex crime victim.

Her report of the assault led to the conviction and jailing of Ehrett.  Ehrett's six-month jail term ends next month, and a three-year probation term begins.

"I still beat myself up to this day that I didn't do something in the moment,"  the woman tells 27 News.

She speaks to a 27 News reporter, wearing a baseball cap.  But this young professional appears hardly carefree.  She says even common, every day activities can trigger her lingering trauma.  An example - riding an elevator. 

"When men are on the elevator, I feel for my life completely,"  she says.

"When I'm out hiking, you have a million thoughts that go through your head,"  the victim says.  "You would think 11 months later, you would feel better, but you still have these thoughts."

When initially questioned by police, Ehrett said he felt the woman's temperament was inviting his sexual overture.  The victim says she's pained by his words, and haunted by them.  "Every time I talk to a male, I question whether, if I was flirtatious,"  she says.

The victim's interview with 27 News comes shortly after the web site BuzzFeed reported there have been more than 180 complaints nationwide against employees of Massage Envy over alleged, sexual misconduct.  The victim says the revelation helps with her healing.

"I feel that I'm not alone,"  she says.  "That's helped me a lot, so many other women coming forward."

Her recovery is also taking place as one powerful man after another is exposed as having sexually mistreated subordinates or acquaintances, in what feels like a cultural sea-change.

"I think some more women will come forward,"  the victim says of the empowerment flowing from a national discussion over sexual harassment.  "I think it's a huge wake up call."

Massage Envy has maintained the overwhelming majority of its customers have been treated appropriately.  Across the country, the business faces several lawsuits over employee actions.  The Madison woman says she's considering legal action.

Records show Ehrett was licensed as a massage therapist for five years before his sexual assault crime, with no issues noted.


Dozens accuse massage therapists at Massage Envy of sexual misconduct

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Fitchburg massage therapist receives jail, probation for sexual assault

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