Former Omaha Massage Therapist Pleads No Content to Sexual Assault
Former massage therapist Melvin Buffington has pleaded no contest to two counts of attempted first-degree sexual assault as part of a plea deal. Buffington was charged with sexually assaulting 19 women during massages at his workplace, Oasis Massage & Spa in Omaha.
Buffington faces a maximum of 40 years in prison and will be sentenced in May. Prosecutors have announced that they will seek the maximum sentence.
Douglas County prosecutors agreed to drop 21 charges, mostly misdemeanor third-degree sexual assaults, in exchange for the no contest plea.
According to the authorities, the 63-year-old massage therapist digitally penetrated at least two women and inappropriately touched another 17 during massages at Oasis, located at 689 N. 132nd St.
Buffington was an employee of Oasis since August 2016. The first reported sexual assault happened in June 2017. Victims ranged in age from 23 to 58 and told police of various forms of inappropriate touching.
One victim told the owners of Oasis that Buffington had digitally penetrated her on January 12, 2018. However, he continued working at the business. An additional five women later told police that they had been sexually assaulted by Buffington during massages that occurred after the January 2018 complaint.
At least five of the victims have sued Oasis Massage & Spa, alleging that the company failed to run a background check before hiring Buffington and that they had inadequate protocols for responding to complaints of sexual misconduct.
Justice for Survivors of Massage Therapist Sexual Assault
Attorney contributor Brian Kent of AbuseGuardian.com is a former prosecutor who now represents survivors of sexual assault in civil court. His law firm, Laffey, Bucci & Kent, has helped dozens of women file lawsuits after being sexually assaulted by massage therapists at nationwide chains like Massage Envy. Here are some of Brian’s thoughts on how these survivors can find justice:
Massage therapy is an industry that relies on trust. Customers are alone with employees and in vulnerable positions, so it’s crucial to make sure all employees are trustworthy and that customers are safe. But sadly, there have been hundreds of cases of sexual assault involving massage therapists.
In many cases, massage businesses are negligent in a way that allows these assaults to occur. These businesses must be held accountable for allowing their customers to be traumatized by employees. The victims of massage therapist sexual assault often have grounds for a lawsuit against the business where the assault occurred.
If you or a loved one has been sexually assaulted by a massage therapist, we want to help you find justice. You can learn more about your legal options in a free consultation with an experienced sexual assault survivors lawyer.
Location of Oasis Massage & Spa in Omaha, NE