Jill Howie had been a regular client at Massage Envy Spa for years without problems when something went very wrong. Now, the registered nurse hopes her lawsuit will force the national company to make changes that could prevent future victims.
Massage therapist Patrick Lockard pled no contest last year to sexual battery, and he remains on probation. Howie said Lockard's punishment should be only the beginning.
"He was very rough with me. He pinned my arms. He was very rough in my upper body, and he's a big guy, and he had his full weight on me. I couldn't move," Howie said.
Howie said Lockard then lay on top of her and simulated sex. After it was over, she didn't know what to do.
"All the weight is carried on the victim. You know, you have to prove that it really happened."
When investigators proposed she go back to confront him wearing a wire, Howie reluctantly agreed.
"It was terrifying. I wasn't sure what to ask," Howie said. "I was afraid that if I got in there, something again would happen."
But with detectives nearby, Howie went behind closed doors once again with Lockard.
"He said he was sorry, sorry, sorry, but he was sorry that I called him on it, not sorry because he did it," Howie said.
In fact, Howie said Lockard's top priority was keeping his company from finding out about the incident.
"Massage clients are very vulnerable because they are laying there without their clothes on under a sheet, so it's very important for a massage company like Massage Envy to do the best possible screening and counseling and training, and here we don't feel like they did," Howie's Attorney Moseley Collins said.
The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in financial damages. It also asks for reforms.However, Collins said what specific changes they seek still need to be determined because, so far, the company has not responded to them to review their existing policies.
In a statement to News10, a spokesperson for the company wrote:
"Massage Envy Spa and its franchisees take all customer issues very seriously and have a zero tolerance policy on inappropriate conduct... This was an isolated incident during which the clinic staff fully cooperated with authorities."
But Howie said the company should do more to prevent what happened to her. Until then, she doesn't know how anyone could feel comfortable getting a massage, and she doesn't know if she ever will.
"It's not often that nurses do anything to take care of themselves, and massage was really my only outlet, so it kind of ruined that for me," Howie said.