Former Springfield, MO massage therapist William Morlang was found guilty on two counts of second-degree sodomy and one count second-degree sexual abuse. Four women testified that Morlang sexually abused them while they were in a facedown position during massages at the now-closed massage parlor he used to own, called P.E.A.C.E. Thru Massage. All four also testified that they were frozen in feat because they were alone with Morlang during these incidents.
Jurors deliberated for about nine and a half hours before returning their verdict. Morlang has a sentencing hearing scheduled for October 19, 2018, and he will face a sentence of two to seven years for each sodomy count and up to one year for the sexual abuse count.
Sexual abuse victims lawyer Reed Martens has contributed some thoughts on the legal rights of those who have been sexually abused by massage therapists:
Going to a massage therapist requires a great deal of trust. Clients are alone with their therapists behind closed doors, and while most massage therapists are respectful professionals, a small minority are predators. When a massage therapist exploits their position of trust in order to sexually abuse a client, it's important to hold the massage therapist accountable in both criminal and civil courts.
Sexual predators deserve to be arrested and prosecuted for their crimes. Additionally, the victims of these crimes deserve financial support and to see the enablers of sexual abuse held accountable as well. Filing a lawsuit helps meet both of these goals. In some cases, the company that employed the massage therapist could be held liable for damages if the victim chooses to file a lawsuit. The victim and their lawyer will need to demonstrate negligence on the company's part, such as failing to run a background check on an employee with a history of sexual assault complaints or other criminal offenses.