Due to the lapse in appropriations, Department of Justice websites will not be regularly updated. The Department’s essential law enforcement and national security functions will continue. Please refer to the Department of Justice’s contingency plan for more information.

You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Columbia

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Former Massage Therapist Pleads Guilty to Sex Offenses for Incidents Involving Clients

Three Victims Were Abused at Two Different Establishments

            WASHINGTON – Habtamu Gebreslassie, 24, a former massage therapist, pled guilty today to three sex offenses stemming from a series of incidents involving clients at two massage establishments in Northwest Washington, announced U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu and Peter Newsham, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).


            Gebreslassie, of Silver Spring, Md., pled guilty in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to first-degree sexual abuse of a patient or client, attempted first-degree sexual abuse of a patient or client, and misdemeanor sexual abuse. The plea, which is contingent upon the Court’s approval, calls for an agreed-upon prison sentence of 19 to 60 months, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Additionally, upon completion of his prison term, Gebreslassie will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.


             The Honorable Lynn Leibovitz scheduled sentencing for Feb. 16, 2017.


             According to a proffer of facts submitted at the plea hearing, all three victims were women who were getting massages from the defendant, who was licensed to practice massage therapy in the District of Columbia.


            The first incident took place on June 21, 2017, at a massage establishment in the Dupont Circle area. That day, Gebreslassie engageed in unwanted sexual contact with a client. The second incident happened on Aug. 28, 2017, at another establishment in the Tenleytown area; there, Gebreslassie attempted to engage in a sexual act with a client. Finally, on Sept. 17, 2017, also at the Tenleytown location, Gebreslassie sexually abused a client.


             Following the Sept. 17 incident, the victim contacted the Metropolitan Police Department. Gebreslassie was arrested later that day and has remained in custody ever since.


             In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Liu and Chief Newsham commended the work of those who investigated the case from the Metropolitan Police Department’s Second District and Sexual Assault Unit. They also expressed appreciation for the work of those who handled the case at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Victim/Witness Advocate Tracy Hawkins, Paralegal Specialist Tiffany Jones, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jocelyn Bond and J. Matt Williams, who investigated and prosecuted the case.

Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 
Updated December 14, 2017