Omaha massage therapist accused of sexually assaulting 19 women takes plea deal

Omaha massage therapist accused of sexually assaulting 19 women takes plea deal
Melvin Buffington He’s been charged with two counts of first-degree sex assault and 12 counts of third-degree sex assault. RYAN SODERLIN/THE WORLD-HERALD

An Omaha massage therapist who was accused of sexually assaulting at least 19 women during their massages has taken a plea deal.

Melvin Buffington has pleaded no contest to two counts of attempted first-degree sexual assault. The 63-year-old faces a maximum of 40 years in prison when sentenced in May.

In exchange for the no-context pleas, Douglas County prosecutors dropped 21 charges, most of which were misdemeanor third-degree sexual assaults. Multiple charges were filed in connection with a couple of women.

Authorities said Buffington digitally penetrated at least two women and inappropriately touched 17 others during their massages at Oasis Massage & Spa at 689 N. 132nd St.

Buffington had worked at the business since August 2016. The earliest reported sexual assault occurred in June 2017. Women as young as 23 and as old as 58 told police about the inappropriate touching, which included touching their breasts or genitals or putting his crotch close to their faces.

One of the women told owners of the business that she was digitally penetrated on Jan. 12, 2018. Despite the complaint, Buffington continued working at the spa. Five more women later told police that they were sexually assaulted on dates after the woman’s complaint to owners.

Two women were sexually assaulted during couples massages — one husband was an Omaha police officer.

Some of the women have filed lawsuits against the company,alleging that owners failed to run a background check on Buffington or have safeguards in place to address complaints.