Judge: Massage therapist for Kansas athletes bound for trial

Local News

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A man who provided massages for female athletes at the University of Kansas will have to face trial on charges accusing him of sexually abusing a young girl, a judge determined Tuesday.

Shawn O’Brien, 49, of Lawrence, was charged in February with indecent liberties with a child based on allegations he had sexually abused the girl multiple times when she was 9 or 10 years old, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.

Based on the girl’s testimony at Tuesday’s preliminary hearing, Douglas County District Court Judge Sally Pokorny found enough evidence existed to take the case to trial on three felony charges of aggravated indecent liberties with a child.

When the allegations were first reported, the University of Kansas canceled its contracts with O’Brien and began an investigation. Six university female student-athletes told investigators they had experienced “unwarranted touching” during massages by O’Brien.

Amended charges were filed in July against O’Brien adding six counts of sexual battery, all misdemeanors, involving four individuals. The amended charges do not say if the alleged assaults happened on campus. However, the Douglas County district attorney’s office confirmed that four of the counts are associated with report numbers provided by the university’s Public Safety Office.

Judges do not have to determine probable cause through preliminary hearings for misdemeanor charges, so none of the other alleged victims testified Tuesday.

Defense attorney, Philip Sedgwick, entered not guilty pleas on O’Brien’s behalf.

The girl testified that O’Brien had given her “massages” that started on her head, but he then worked his way down her neck and shoulders to her chest below her shirt and inside her underwear. She said these occurred when she was staying the night at his home, trying to sleep on the living room floor as some of his own children slept nearby.

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