D.C. former Massage Envy therapist pleads guilty to sexual abuse of clients

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – A former massage therapist for Massage Envy pleaded guilty on Thursday to the sexual abuse or attempted abuse of three different women clients.

Habtamu Gebreslassie, 24, faced charges of first degree sexual abuse and attempted first degree sexual abuse involving two clients at the Massage Envy in Tenleytown and misdemeanor sexual abuse for a client at Deluca Massage and Bodywork in Northwest D.C.

He was arrested after the most recent incident in September, then other victims came forward.

Gebreslassie’s guilty plea came with the agreement that the government would not file additional charges related to the three victims, and he would spend no less than a year and a half in jail, but no more than five years.

He would also have three years supervised release and register as a sex offender for life.

The victim in the September incident, Tara Woodley, spoke with DCW50 in November.

“It’s affected everything, it’s affected my job that I started the next day, it’s affected my husband, it’s affected our relationship, it’s affected my family,” she said.

Kim Brooks-Rodney, a partner at Cohen & Cohen, is representing Woodley in a $25 million lawsuit against Massage Envy.

She says before any of the D.C. incidents, Gebreslassie allegedly assaulted a woman at a Bowie location.

In a statement today, Kim Brooks-Rodney said:

“The criminal case has taken its due course and justice has been served in the criminal area.

The civil case against Massage Envy and Mr. Gebreslassie continues with the now admission that
he assaulted two other patrons of the day spa, which we believe occurred prior to his assault on Ms. Woodley. We look forward to obtaining justice in the civil area and to changing the corporate culture of Massage Envy. Hopefully never again will Message Envy shuffle around another predator, so that he can thereafter attack not one but two women.”

Judge Lynn Leibovitz said she would decide whether or not to accept the plea agreement at another hearing on February 16th.

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