Woman sues Massage Envy, employee after alleged sex assault

August 7, 2012 5:51:51 PM PDT
A second woman's accusations of assault have lead to the indictment of a massage therapist. Now a popular massage parlor chain faces a lawsuit, claiming it failed to protect its clients.

Cody Wayne Lewis, 40, was indicted last month for sexual assault at a Spring Massage Envy back in January. But just one year before that, Lewis faced similar accusations at another Massage Envy location.

The woman who says she was attacked by that same massage therapist back in May 2011 says this second case could have been prevented.

When Kellie Armstrong walked into a Massage Envy in Magnolia, she expected a relaxing experience. The mother of two was using her Mother's Day gift certificate. Instead she says she was sexually assaulted by her massage therapist.

"He had started massaging the inner part of my thigh. Most massage therapists don't do that," said Armstrong. "But then he crossed that line."

She says the therapist was this Cody Wayne Lewis.

"After he assaulted me, he had his hands around my neck and throat area," Armstrong said.

In a horrible case of irony, Armstrong is a social worker who specializes in victims of sex crimes and knew exactly what to do -- she told management and filled out a police report.

"I went to the hospital immediately and had the rape kit performed," she said.

Later, Armstrong testified before a grand jury, but Lewis was never indicted.

Then last month Lewis was charged with the sexual assault of a client at a different Massage Envy, this one in Spring. Armstrong was stunned.

"It happened to another woman. This did not have to happen and so it's just relief he's been caught, but at the same time anger that he was allowed to and that he was at another Massage Envy," Armstrong said.

We asked Massage Envy why Lewis was hired here after the alleged incident. The answer was that Lewis was never charged with a crime so he passed a background check and each franchise is independently owned.

"I am shocked that Massage Envy doesn't have some sort of communication process where they keep up with who they hire and allegations made against them," said Paula Estefan, attorney for Kellie Armstrong.

Armstrong is now suing the Magnolia Massage Envy and her alleged attacker in civil court.

Cody Wayne Lewis's lawyer, Douglas Atkinson, told Eyewitness News, "It's unfortunate that when there's a civil lawsuit of this nature that there's going to be a financial motivation for an individual."

But Armstrong says that's not her motivation.

"I just don't want it to happen again to someone else," Armstrong said.

Lewis has his next court appearance on August 16.

We worked on this story with our Houston Community Newspaper partner, the Courier of Montgomery County.

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