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Kansas Athletes: Misconduct by Massage Therapist

Brock Fritz

At least six University of Kansas athletes reported inappropriate conduct by a former massage therapist that had been contracted by Kansas athletics.

Tuesday’s joint statement by Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod and athletic director Jeff Long said that an investigation into Shawn Paul O’Brien found that a number of female athletes reported him for “unwarranted touching during massages.”

O’Brien had been contracted since 2015 to provide massage service to Kansas’ women’s sports teams.

According to The Kansas City Star, the 48-year-old O’Brien was arrested in February and charged with one count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child under 14.

“Upon learning of the criminal charge, the university, The University of Kansas Health System and LMH Health — our student-athlete health providers — together with an outside entity, immediately began an investigation into the massage therapist’s conduct on campus,” Kansas’ statement said, noting that investigators have interviewed nearly 40 student-athletes and seven staff members so far.

Kansas’ letter also said that they are investigating an athletic trainer who was aware of at least some of the unwarranted touching, but failed to appropriately report the conduct.

“Through this investigation, we have learned that protocols were not followed,” the letter said. “We are committed to strengthening education efforts of all staff and student-athletes in this area of mandatory reporting.”

The university’s statement also noted that, from 2011 until 2019, O’Brien provided free massages to the general student population through the KU Alumni Association’s Finals Dinner. He also allegedly handed out gift cards that may have led to off-campus massages at his office at Kamehameha Massage LLC in Lawrence.

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