Four Massage Envy clients told police that a Massage Envy therapist who worked in Washington D.C. and Bowie, Maryland made unwanted sexual contact with them during massage appointments. The massage therapist, Habtamu Gebreselassie, is 24 years old, and is now facing multiple criminal charges.
The earliest known alleged incident is reported to have occurred at the Massage Envy in Bowie, Maryland on June 20, 2017. According to the victim, she reported the incident to management at the Bowie Massage Envy franchise and asked to cancel her membership. She says she was told she could not do so but that she could have a free spa day, as a courtesy. Also, she says management told her that Gebreselassie was transferred to a location in D.C., so she would not see him again at the Bowie location.
As of September 22, 2017, Gebreselassie has been criminally charged in three claims: (1) sexual abuse between June 17 and June 21 at the Massage Envy franchise on P Street NW in Washgington D.C. , (2) attempted sexual abuse on Aug. 28 at Massage Envy in Tenleytown; and (3) sexual abuse Sept. 17 at Massage Envy in Tenleytown. The alleged victim in the August 28th incident told law enforcement that she report the incident to the management and owner of the Massage Envy location on Sepemtember 5. Management wrote a report, gave Gebreselassie additional training and allowed him to stay on the job, a D.C. detective testified in court.
Clients of massage therapists are placed in isolated, vulnerable settings where they can be subject to abuse by their massage therapists. Due to the potential for abuse that is inherent under these circumstances, massage therapists must possess good judgment and good moral character in order to safely practice massage therapy. Incidents such as this are a reminder that persons who may commit sexual misconduct work in all industries, even professions in which we typically place our blind trust. All allegations of sexual abuse must be thoroughly investigated by law enforcement and employers must be vigilant in screening, supervision and protection at all times.
Farmer Jaffe attorney Adam Horowitz is experienced in handling claims nationwide on behalf of victims of sexual assault by massage therapists, including at Massage Envy, Massage Luxe, Hand & Stone Massage, Massage Green, Elements Massage, Massage Heights, Planet Beach Spray & Spa, and other national chains, spas, and hotels. You can reach Adam Horowitz at [email protected] or call our law firm at (954) 603-8394.