A judge at the University of Kansas has sentenced a massage therapist to three life sentences of 25 years for multiple sex crimes against five people, including a child and three soccer players.
Douglas County Judge Sally Pokorny sentenced 50-year-old Lawrence massage therapist Shawn P. O’Brien on Friday after a jury found him guilty on eight counts in August.
Five of the counts charged him with sexual harassment for petting and massaging four women between 2016 and 2019 to treat sports-related issues. Three of the women played for the Kansas soccer team. The fourth woman was a college student who was a customer in his office.
O’Brien had a contract with the university to offer massage treatments to many athletes on campus. This contract was terminated after the first fees were submitted.
Three charges accused O’Brien of indecent liberties with a child under the age of 14 for petting a girl who was either 9 or 10 years old three times between 2013 and 2015. All three resulted in “hard 25” sentences, which means that he should serve at least 25 years before they can be paroled. Pokorny said the three life sentences are being served at the same time, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.
Assistant District Attorney Joshua Seiden told jurors during the closing arguments that O’Brien used his credentials as a professional massage therapist as an excuse to caress the victims. Seiden pointed to the testimony of the soccer players, who said that O’Brien petted them while giving the team massages. He said O’Brien claimed not to remember any of the incidents involving the athletes.
Defense attorney Philip Sedgwick argued that the case amounted to a “he said she said” situation and suggested that prosecutors did not produce enough evidence to convict O’Brien. He said the athletes didn’t complain about his methods or let him know they were uncomfortable with what he was doing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.