GENEVA, Ill. — A Geneva woman filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Massage Envy, in Geneva, accusing them of failing to conduct a background check on a massage therapist who she alleged sexually assaulted her.

Christine Schirtzinger, 51, filed a 37-count civil lawsuit in Cook County Circuit court against the massage salon for claiming that if they provided adequate supervision and a proper background check, she would not have been sexually assaulted.

The complaint filed by the woman’s attorney said the massage therapist pled guilty to a sex charge stemming from the incident in March 2022.

The complaint also alleges he was an alleged offender in another sex offense case involving a minor in 2006 and pleaded guilty to a felony theft charge in another case.

According to the complaint, James ‘Rob’ Garret Garrett violated Schirtzinger three times during a massage on Dec. 12, 2020. She reportedly immediately told him to stop and reported the assault to the Geneva Police Department.

Garrett was charged with multiple felonies related to the sexual assault, pled guilty to a reduced misdemeanor sexual charge and was placed on 24 months sex offender probation, ordered to undergo an alcohol and drug evaluation and prohibited from massage therapy work. Following his guilty plea, Garrett was required to register as a sex offender in Illinois.

Despite his guilty plea in March 2022 and being a registered sex offender, Garrett continued to hold a massage therapy license in the State of Illinois for seven months following his conviction. The state did not revoke his license until November. 

The Massage Envy franchise network is the largest provider of therapeutic massages and skin care in the U.S.  According to the complaint, Massage Envy has been confronted with hundreds of complaints, police reports and lawsuits by women nationwide who have experienced sexual misconduct during massages at Massage Envy facilities.  The civil lawsuit was filed under the Gender Violence Act. 

WGN has reached out to Massage Envy for a response. They issued a statement Friday that read, “Massage Envy is committed to promoting a safe environment for members, guests and service providers at each of the approximately 1,100 franchised locations nationwide.  We urge anyone who experiences anything other than a safe, quality massage to report it immediately to the franchised location so that it can be investigated.  We cannot comment on pending allegations or litigation involving any independently owned and operated franchised location.  For more information please visit the Commitment to Safety section of our website.