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Massage Envy Worker Pleads Guilty to Sexually Assaulting Three Women

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

A former Massage Envy massage therapist pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting three female customers in D.C., WTOP reported

Habtamu Gebreselassie of Silver Spring, Maryland, faces up to five years in prison after pleading guilty through an interpreter to first-degree sexual assault, attempted first-degree sexual assault and misdemeanor sexual abuse, 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. 

One woman told News4 Gebreselassie touched her inappropriately at a Massage Envy in Bowie 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 Sept. 17 when the massage therapist removed the sheet covering her pelvis and 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.

Buzzfeed has reported 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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