Massage therapist seeks release before trial on sexual assault charges

WASHINGTON — The lawyer for a former massage therapist charged with sexually assaulting women at salons in the D.C. region is asking to be released from jail before his trial.

Four women have accused Habtamu Gebreslassie, 24, of Silver Spring, of improperly touching them during massages.

He is currently charged in two incidents at the Message Envy in Tenleytown. Another woman said she was attacked in the company’s Bowie facility, and another woman told police she was touched by Gebreselassie at an unaffiliated spa in Georgetown.

During a brief hearing on Wednesday in D.C. Superior Court, Gebreslassie’s attorney, Sweta Patel told Judge Lynn Leibovitz she will file a motion seeking his release until trial.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Williams told the judge that prosecutors believe Gebreselassie should continue to be held before trial.

In a previous bond review hearing, another judge said he was considering putting Gebreselassie on home, GPS monitoring.

In court, Williams told the judge that prosecutors have investigated several calls from other potential victims, who called after Gebreslassie was initially charged.

During the hearing, Williams told the judge a grand jury will be hearing evidence in the case.

Any future charges against him would likely come in the form of an indictment.

Gebreselassie will return to court Monday morning for a bond review hearing.

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