DC massage therapist held without bond in sexual abuse cases

WASHINGTON – A massage therapist accused of sexually abusing clients has been ordered to stay in jail without bond following a hearing in a D.C. courtroom Thursday.

Judge Milton Lee said he was concerned that Habtamu Gebreslassie, 24, of Silver Spring, could pose a danger to the community if released because the investigation is still unfolding and it is not yet clear how many potential victims there may be.

Gebreslassie was arrested on charges of first- and second-degree sexual abuse after police said he abused one of his clients by performing a sexual act on her during a massage on Sunday.

He faces a third charge of attempted sexual abuse of a patient or client for trying to perform a sexual act on another woman during a massage last month.

According to investigators, both cases happened during massage sessions at Massage Envy located on Wisconsin Avenue in Northwest D.C. The business has stated Gebreslassie is no longer employed there.

During Thursday’s hearing, D.C. Police Det. Darryl Richmond explained that after he interviewed the woman who called police on Sunday, he learned about another recent report involving one of Gebreslassie’s clients. He spoke with that woman who identified Gebreslassie from a picture on social media and made the accusation about the August incident.

Richmond said both women told nearly identical stories: Gebreslassie put a cloth over their face, engaged in inappropriate conduct and then apologized after being confronted about it, claiming that he had never done it before.

Prosecutors said they think it is very likely that more victims will come forward.

Although he ordered Gebreslassie held without bond, Judge Lee suggested that he would be willing to consider other options, such as GPS monitoring or house arrest, if no further charges are brought against Gebreslassie in the near future.

Gebreslassie pleaded not guilty to the charges and is scheduled to be back in court for another hearing in October.

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