Attorney wants Lawrence massage therapist’s sex crime case severed, says allegations are ‘totally separate’

photo by: Mackenzie Clark

Attorney Philip Sedgwick, left, addresses the City of Lawrence’s Bodywork Advisory Board on behalf of his client, Shawn P. O’Brien, right, on March 18, 2020.

The attorney for a Lawrence massage therapist who previously contracted with University of Kansas women’s athletic teams wants the man’s child sex crime charges severed from additional counts whose alleged victims are adults.

Shawn P. O’Brien, 49, was initially charged with one count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child, a high-severity felony. However, four adults then came forward and alleged that O’Brien had touched them inappropriately without their consent, and in July, prosecutors charged him with multiple counts of sexual battery, all misdemeanors.

As the Journal-World has reported, the girl told Lawrence police that O’Brien had molested her under the guise of a massage. In her testimony at O’Brien’s preliminary hearing on Sept. 1, the girl mentioned other occasions when she said O’Brien had touched her, and O’Brien was bound over for trial on two additional counts of aggravated indecent liberties. He has pleaded not guilty.

In a motion filed recently, O’Brien’s attorney, Philip Sedgwick, has asked the judge to separate the cases.

Sedgwick wrote that to allow charges to be joined together, the acts must be connected or constitute “a common scheme.” According to Sedgwick’s motion, the alleged incidents with the child occurred between June 2013 and 2015; the adults had come to O’Brien’s place of employment for massages between 2016 and 2019.

photo by: Douglas County Sheriff’s Office

Shawn O’Brien, pictured in February 2020

“The acts are not of the same character,” Sedgwick wrote. “One involves coercion and the other a minor.”

O’Brien was listed as a registered owner of Kamehameha Massage LLC, a massage business at 346 Maine St. in Lawrence, until a few days before he was first charged, state business records show.

Sedgwick wrote that the allegations from the adults would confuse the jury and be prejudicial to O’Brien. He said that evidence was not probative of any issues in the case involving the child.

“The acts were not connected to each other in any way,” Sedgwick wrote. “They occurred at different places and times and had no factual link with each other. They were with people who were unrelated to each other. They were allegations of totally separate events separated by years and not having any part of the same event.”

Deputy District Attorney David Melton and Senior Assistant District Attorney Alice Walker are prosecuting the case. They had not yet filed a response to Sedgwick’s motion as of Friday.

O’Brien’s next hearing is set for Dec. 10. He has remained out of custody on a $25,000 surety bond since a couple of hours after he was arrested on a warrant on Feb. 7, 2020. The only condition of bond shown in court documents is that O’Brien have no contact with civilian witnesses.

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