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Massage Envy Worker Accused of Sex Abuse to Plead Guilty

More than 180 women have reported sexual assaults at Massage Envy locations across the country, a report says

The man accused of attacking at least four customers while he was employed as a massage therapist is expected to plead guilty in two of those cases this week, WTOP reports

Habtamu Gebreselassie of Silver Spring, Maryland, will plead guilty Friday, according to WTOP.

Gebreselassie has been accused in four reports of sexual misconduct at three different locations: a Massage Envy in the Tenleytown neighborhood of D.C., a Massage Envy in Bowie, Maryland, and at an unaffiliated massage parlor on the 2000 block of P Street NW in D.C. 

He has only been charged in the assaults that reported to have occurred at the Tenleytown location. 

One woman told News4 Gebreselassie touched her inappropriately at a Massage Envy in Bowie on June 20. She said management offered her a free spa day and told her he had been transferred to a location in D.C.

Then, a 66-year-old woman told police Gebreselassie assaulted her at a Massage Envy in Tenleytown on Aug. 28.

"I've never done this before. I don't know what got into me," she told police he said. 

Management wrote a report, gave Gebreselassie additional training and allowed him to stay on the job, a D.C. detective testified.

Then, Tara Woodley said Gebreselassie attacked her three weeks later.

Woodley said she was getting a massage at the Massage Envy's Tenleytown location on Sept. 17 when the massage therapist removed the sheet that was covering her pelvis. Then, he put his mouth on her genitals, she said.

She immediately pulled the sheet back up to cover herself and ordered him to leave.

"We're done here. We're done here," she said she repeated, raising her voice.

On his knees, he begged for forgiveness, Woodley said. 

She said she went outside and called her husband. He told her to call 911, she did and police arrived quickly.

Gebreselassie was charged in two claims: for sexual abuse in Woodley's case Sept. 17 and for attempted sexual abuse on Aug. 28 in the same location. He was fired.

"He was on a trend. Basically, every month, he was targeting somebody," Woodley said last month at a news conference about the alleged attack. "It stops with me."

Woodley previously spoke and filed a lawsuit anonymously, using the name Jane Doe. Speaking publicly for the first time last month, Woodley said she came forward to help other women and "found strength" in watching women in Hollywood and in government confront sexual misconduct.

If Gebreselassie is convicted, he faces decades in prison.

Last month, Buzzfeed reported that more than 180 women have reported sexual assaults at Massage Envy locations across the country. The billion-dollar company trains franchise owners to conduct internal investigations on reports of misconduct and does not require that they report alleged crimes to police, Buzzfeed reported. 

In response to the Buzzfeed report, Massage Envy — which has more than 1,100 franchises in 49 states, according to the company's website — said the incidents described in the report were "heartbreaking for us and for the franchisees that operate Massage Envy locations."

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