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Justice News

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

Friday, February 16, 2018

Former Massage Therapist Sentenced to Five Years in Prison for Series of Sex Offenses Involving Clients

Three Victims Were Abused at Two Different Establishments

            WASHINGTON – Habtamu Gebreslassie, 24, a former massage therapist, was sentenced today to five years in prison for a series of sex offenses 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 December 2017, 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 was contingent upon the Court’s approval, called 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 accepted the plea and sentenced the defendant accordingly.

            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 sentence, 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 acknowledged the efforts of the Forensic Biology Unit of the District of Columbia Department of Forensic Sciences, which provided assistance. They 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 February 22, 2018