A Bend man under investigation for sexually abusing a Massage Envy client was allowed to return to work where he victimized two more women before being arrested.

Christopher Randolph Rosario, now 40, is named by three victims in a lawsuit along with Massage Envy (the national chain) and the operators of the Bend Massage Envy franchise for more than $10 million.

With more than 900 locations, Massage Envy is the largest chain of massage spas in the U.S. The company is currently named in 50 separate sex abuse cases in 15 states, according to a motion filed in circuit court by Tim Williams, attorney for the three sex abuse victims.

On Wednesday, in the courtroom of Deschutes County Circuit Court Judge Wells Ashby, the national Massage Envy company asked to be removed from the suit.

Ashby said he would issue a decision in the matter in two to three weeks.

In November, Buzzfeed conducted an investigation into Massage Envy — a billion-­dollar company, citing one of Rosario’s victims high in the article as an example of the more than 180 women who had reported sexual assaults.

Rosario is said to have forced his entire fist inside that woman’s vagina, among other allegations.

Brad Shwer, attorney for Massage Envy, argued Wednesday that despite the company knowing Rosario was under criminal investigation, and two of Rosario’s co-workers complaining about inappropriate comments, the national corporation couldn’t have reasonably foreseen Rosario would abuse more women.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Williams hit back that the company should have known based on its business model.

“We’re talking about a sensual-type environment, with naked women behind closed doors,” Williams told the judge. “I don’t know what’s more foreseeable than that.”

Also appearing Wednesday were attorneys for Rosario, as well as AMC Royal, the Oregon company that operates the Bend Massage Envy in the Cascade Village Shopping Center on U.S. Highway 97 and four other Massage Envy locations.

When the sexual abuse occurred, Rosario worked as a licensed massage therapist at the Bend Massage Envy. He was employed there from late 2015 to early 2016.

In October 2015, Bend Police looked into a complaint against Rosario by a client. Massage Envy placed Rosario on leave, but allowed him to return to work before charges were brought, according to court documents.

That victim, identified by her initials in case filings, is seeking the lowest damages of the three victims: $500,000. According to court documents, the abuse against the first victim was not a completed act. The women he abused after returning to work are seeking a combined $10 million.

In March, Rosario agreed to plead no contest to three sex-related felonies. In exchange, the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office dropped six other charges.

No-contest pleas are not admissions of guilt but are treated as convictions by the court.

At his sentencing, Rosario admitted nothing, saying instead he’d been railroaded by the system and that he’d only agreed to a deal to save years of his life.

“The truth is on my side,” he told Judge A. Michael Adler before the judge sentenced him to seven years in prison.

Rosario, 40, is currently an inmate at the Two Rivers Correctional Facility in Umatilla. The earliest he could be released is November 2023.

— Reporter: 541-383-0325, gandrews@bendbulletin.com