DC’s 9:30 Club owner Seth Hurwitz pleads guilty to misdemeanor solicitation charge

Seth Hurwitz, right, and his son leaving Montgomery County District Court Nov. 7, 2019. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein.)

Seth Hurwitz, the co-owner of the 9:30 Club and The Anthem music venues in D.C., has pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of solicitation of prostitution, stemming from an incident in August in which he made sexual advances toward a massage therapist in Montgomery County, Maryland.

As part of a plea agreement, he was sentenced to three years supervised probation and must complete 100 hours of community service.

Police said the 61-year-old booked a session with a licensed physical therapist in August and then made sexual comments and motions.

The massage therapist told police that Hurwitz suggested she would receive a larger tip if she were “willing to go a little higher” toward his genitals during the massage, and she said she was forced to stop the massage early because of his behavior.

After the woman contacted police, detectives orchestrated a text conversation between Hurwitz and the massage therapist, in which he agreed to book another session with the woman and said he would pay cash in exchange for sexual favors.

During a hearing Thursday in Montgomery County District Court, the woman, who was surrounded by friends and family, said Hurwitz’s behavior was “very triggering” and continues to upset her.

“He was relentless,” she said, describing Hurwitz’s advances.

“I am a respected licensed professional,” she said. “Here, I’ve been diminished to someone’s sex toy.”

During the woman’s statement, Hurwitz stood at the defense table, hands clasped behind him and looked down.

Later, he offered an apology to the woman for his persistent requests for a sexual massage.

“I was clueless,” he said. After reading the evidence against him, he told the judge, “Wow, I have some serious issues — how self-centered and myopic my world is.”

After his arrest in August, the concert impresario announced he was “stepping aside” from running his business, which also operates the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland.

“I went away from work. I went away for treatment, and now this is lifelong work,” Hurwitz told District Court Judge Holly Reed during the hearing Thursday. “I’m sorry I hurt her, if I did.”

His lawyers told the judge that Hurwitz has undergone therapy with two psychiatrists and will continue treatment.

The judge said he would also insist that Hurwitz undergo psychosexual evaluation.

The plea agreement calls for what’s known as “probation before judgment,” meaning, if Hurwitz successfully completes probation, his guilty verdict will be expunged from court records.

After pleading guilty, Hurwitz sent an email to employees of his company, I.M.P., explaining his decision. “Rather than present my side of the story in a court, with all that unwanted drama, I am going to do what’s best for my family and employees and put this behind us,” he wrote.

Read the full letter below:

WTOP’s Jack Moore contributed to this report. 

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