Massage therapist for KU women athletes sentenced for inappropriately touching clients

Picture of Shawn O'Brien

This undated file photo provided by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office shows Shawn O’Brien. O’Brien, who provided massages for female athletes at the University of Kansas, will have to face trial on charges of sexually abusing a young girl, a judge ruled Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. (Douglas County Sheriff’s Office via AP, File)

LAWRENCE, Kan. — A 50-year-old Lawrence massage therapist, who was contracted with the women’s soccer team at the University of Kansas, has been sentenced to life in prison for inappropriately touching his massage clients and a girl younger than 14.

The Douglas County District’s Office said Shawn O’Brien was sentenced Friday, Sept. 24, to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years for each of three felony counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child and 12 months in Douglas County Jail for each of five misdemeanor counts of sexual battery. 

The charges are connected to multiple incidents in O’Brien’s home in which he touched a girl younger than 14 under her clothes on her chest and inside her underpants, while claiming to give her a massage.

The sexual battery convictions involved inappropriate touching of massage clients at his place of business and at the University of Kansas, where he was under contract with the women’s soccer team.

“These sentences can’t erase what happened to the survivors,” Douglas County District Attorney Suzanne Valdez said. “But I hope the strong message from the court can restore their sense of empowerment, safety and justice. My office will not tolerate abuses of power and trust such as the actions by Mr. O’Brien.”

A judge ordered the life sentences will be served concurrently, but the county jail time will be served consecutively which means O’Brien will be eligible for parole from the Kansas Department of Corrections after 25 years but then must serve five years in county jail. Additionally, if he is released, he must wear an electronic monitoring device and be under supervision for life.

The case was investigated by the Lawrence Police Department, University of Kansas Office of Public Safety and the Kansas Department for Children and Families.

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