by Sarah Fenske
UPDATE: Branam was sentenced to a lengthy prison term on June 3. See details below.
Original story follows ...
The owner of a now-shuttered laser hair removal clinic in St. Peters will be sentenced today on four counts of deviate sexual assault following complaints he touched as many as eight customers inappropriately -- and a jury's guilty verdict in January.
Lawrence Branam, 51, was accused by customers at his clinic, Cosmetic Laser Center, of touching them inappropriately, and in some cases even penetrating them with his fingers. Following an investigation by the St. Peters Police Department, he was indicted first in June 2012 and then again on additional counts in March 2013.
Not surprisingly, Branam is also facing a civil lawsuit. In a suit filed in St. Louis Circuit Court last week, a Belleville, Illinois, woman claims she was "offensively and indecently touched and fondled by Lawrence Branam." She also says she suffered a "scratch/tear" to her labia.
Because the woman purchased her services for Branam's clinic via Groupon, she is also suing the Chicago-based corporation.
"Consumers and customers purchasing services and goods online from Groupon is similar to consumers and customers purchasing services and goods from large retail stores such as SAM's Wholesale Club and Walmart," she argues in her lawsuit. "The fact that Groupon sells services and goods online instead of in a large physical retail store should not shield Groupon from their duty and liability to customers when those services and goods cause injury and damages...."
Finally, court records show that Branam is also being criminally prosecuted for failure to pay child support "in excess of 12 monthly payments." Those charges were filed last October and are currently pending in St. Louis County Circuit Court.
Clearly, crime only pays if you're a banker. Laser hair removal clinic owners would do best to keep their fingers to themselves.
Update: St. Charles Circuit Court Judge Nancy Schneider sentenced Branam to fourteen years in prison, as KMOV reports.
The station reports that Branam had his patients wear blackout goggles prior to the assaults. Creepy.
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