Massage therapist a ‘classic sexual predator’

A Chadds Ford massage therapist was determined to be a sexually violent predator and ordered to spend 7 to 14 years in state prison.

On Monday, July 28, Chester County Court Judge David Bortner imposed the sentence on William Eric Webb, 42, of Pennsbury Township, following testimony during a nearly four-hour hearing. A jury found Webb guilty in March of four counts of aggravated indecent assault and four counts of indecent assault for his sexually inappropriate contact with four female patients ranging in age from 27 to 46.

Assistant District Attorney Max O’Keefe had argued for a 12- to 24-year prison term. In his sentencing memorandum, he called Webb “a classic sexual predator, a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” He said the victims came to Webb, a practitioner of myofascial release massage, for treatment while they were experiencing pain and “in a state of disability.” Webb violated their trust and their privacy, he said.

Defense attorney Robert J. Donatoni countered that a four-year term would be more appropriate. He said Webb, who had never been in trouble with the law before, had devoted his life to healing. He said the fact that Webb had already surrendered his professional license constituted significant punishment all by itself.

Speaking in his own behalf, Webb said he appreciated the fact that 42 people had written letters of support to the court. “My goal today is for you to hear from my own lips what a good man I am,” Webb told the judge. He said he had dedicated himself “to the highest standards” and would return to productivity when he completed his prison term.

Bortner said he couldn’t recall a case for which he had received more letters attesting to a defendant’s good character. “Certainly he has much to be proud of, but it doesn’t end there,” the judge said.

The judge explained that he would impose the sentences chronologically; therefore, he would give the letters more weight in the prison term imposed for the first victim. He said his approach should not be construed as an attempt to diminish the impact the crime had on the first victim.

As the assaults continued, Webb’s conduct assumed “an escalating nature” and could no longer be construed as an aberration, the judge said. He imposed sentences of one to two years, one-and-a-half to three years, two to four years, and two-and-a-half to five years. Bortner also noted that Webb had shown no acceptance of responsibility for his crimes.

Earlier in the proceeding, forensic psychologist Bruce Mapes, a member of the state Sex Offenders Assessment Board, testified that Webb met the criteria for being classified as a sexually violent predator. He said Webb suffers from frotteuristic disorder, a form of paraphilia that involves nonconsensual sexual touching. “It’s considered a lifetime condition,” Mapes testified, explaining that it can’t be cured. The judge agreed with the designation, which will mandate lifetime registration under Megan’s Law.

Nearly 40 people attended the hearing, including three of the four victims and relatives and supporters of Webb. All four victims submitted impact statements to the court that detailed the anguish and repercussions of Webb’s assaults. O’Keefe said one of the women had been unable to get off from work.

Bortner denied a request from Donatoni to let Webb begin the sentence the following day so that he could spend time with relatives, including his mother, who had traveled from Texas. The judge deferred Donatoni’s request to withdraw from the case until Webb, who plans to appeal the verdict, has a replacement. Donatoni said Webb had exhausted his financial resources and would now qualify for representation from the Public Defender’s Office.

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