Lengthy sentence urged for convicted massage therapist

WEST CHESTER – A Chadds Ford massage therapist who molested four female patients that went to him for treatment of physical pain should spend a minimum of 12 to 24 years in state prison, according to a sentencing memorandum filed by the prosecution.

William Eric Webb “is a classical sexual predator, a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” said Assistant District Attorney Max O’Keefe in a memo filed last week in advance of Webb’s sentencing before Common Pleas Judge David Bortner Monday. “For women who trust their doctor, therapist, or heath-care provider, (Webb) is every woman’s worst nightmare.”

But Webb’s defense attorney urged Bortner, who presided over his five-day-long trial in February and March, to take into account the character traits he is known for among his family and friends – care, dedication, and compassion, in fashioning his sentence.

“We will be arguing for a more measured sentence than that requested by the Commonwealth in its sentencing memorandum,” Robert J. Donatoni said in an e-mail Sunday. “We will ask the court to consider Mr. Webb’s life long commitment to the helping services, both in Pennsylvania and Texas, the high regard he is held by a large segment of the community, and specific acts of good deeds.”

The defense filed a memorandum with Bortner that included letter from 42 people describing Webb’s good reputation and “history of good work.”

At his trial on charges of aggravated indecent assault and indecent assault, six female patients of Webb’s testified that he had molested them while they were undergoing myofascial massage therapy at his the office in Pennsbury he shared with his partner, in life and business, Erin Bobo.

The accounts provided by O’Keefe in his memo of the incidents for which he was convicted each was similar in the manner in which Webb, a licensed massage therapist, took advantage of the women. During treatment, he would slip his hands underneath their underwear of clothing and fondle them while they were lying prone on the therapy table.

The victims in the case ranged from first-time patients who Webb had not seen before to those who had seen him over a period of months. They included a woman who was herself a licensed massage therapist to a woman who had been treated by Bobo for some time, the memo states.

ome of the women confronted Web about his behavior shortly after it occurred, while others waited before going to the police. When one woman who said Webb had molested her while urging her to “relax and go with it.” When she sent an e-mail to Webb later complaining of his conduct, she received an envelope in the mail with a single $100 bill, the cost of her lone session with Webb.

In another case, a woman, known as Victim 4, who reported his conduct with her to state police in July 2012 wore a wire to record a conversation they had at Pennsbury Park. During the dialogue, he admitted to “messing up,” and said he had made “mistakes no therapist should make.”

But, the memo noted, Webb has consistently refused to take responsibility for his actions, and has shown no remorse. Indeed, earlier in June Webb asked Bortner to grant him a new trial, citing an enhanced version of the taped conversations with Victim 4 that he said would help exonerate him.

At his trial, he testified that the practice of myofascial massage required him to touch the women skin to skin, and that they had likely mistaken his massage for fondling. He also suggested that the women had banded together to attack him.

“Mr. Webb has dedicated himself to trying to help people heal,” Donatoni said in his memo. “It is evident that Mr. Webb has helped, and made strong relationships. With many people.”

But O’Keefe said that Webb deserves a long state prison sentence because of the number of victims and the escalating nature of the behavior. “This was not a single act, characterized by a momentary lapse of judgment,” he wrote in his 15-page memo. He noted that his assault on Victim 4 had come after two other victims had confronted him.

“If he had not been arrested by the police, (Webb) still would be assaulting women.”

He was found guilty of four counts of aggravated indecent assault, a felony, and four counts of indecent assault. He was acquitted on two counts of indecent assault.

All four of the women who he was convicted of molesting are expected to testify at the sentencing about the impact the crimes have had on their lives.