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Report: Many clients claim sex abuse at Massage Envy spas

(CNN/FILE)

An investigative news report has found that more than 180 people have filed sexual misconduct complaints against Massage Envy spas, franchises' employees and the national company.

The report by BuzzFeed News found that those who complained filed sexual assault lawsuits, police reports and other complaints.

The website reports many of those who complained believed their claims were mishandled or ignored by employees, owners of individual Massage Envy spas and by the national company.

Massage Envy issued a statement late Monday afternoon saying that the complaints documented by BuzzFeed News spanned a period of more than 15 years. It called each account heartbreaking.

Massage Envy general counsel Melanie Hansen told BuzzFeed News that the company holds franchise owners accountable and has created rigorous policies for hiring, screening and training therapists.

People who believe they were sexually harassed or assaulted at a South Carolina business can file complaints online.

Complaints can be filed with the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Click here to access the online form.

The regulation office in Columbia says there was a complaint against a therapist in 2009. From a Massage Envy location in Greenville. A customer complained the therapist was unprofessional by massaging near her body parts.

LLR also reports there were about a dozen cease and desist orders issued to several local people who were caught practicing massage therapy with an expired license. One such case involves a man from Mount Pleasant who was arrested earlier this year for third degree criminal sexual conduct. Documents show the alleged crime took place during a massage.

** The Associated Press and ABC News 4's Bill Burr also contributed to this report.

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