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Updated at 3:10 pm with comment from Seth Hurwitz’s attorney.
Seth Hurwitz, the co-owner of 9:30 Club and The Anthem, was arrested and charged in Montgomery County with solicitation of prostitution, according to police.
Hurwitz, 60, one of the most prominent figures in D.C.’s music and entertainment industry, allegedly tried to persuade a massage therapist to perform sexual acts with offers to pay hundreds of dollars for sexual favors. He also allegedly mentioned his frequent trips to Europe, according to Montgomery County District Court records.
Reached by phone Thursday morning, Hurwitz told City Paper, “Yeah I can’t talk right now, I’m sorry,” and hung up.
In the charging document dated Aug. 21, the same date Hurwitz was arrested, a Montgomery County detective describes the original massage on Aug. 15, Hurwitz’s alleged subsequent requests for a massage and sexual services, and a sting operation in which the therapist used her phone in the presence of detectives to make arrangements for sexual favors in exchange for money. When Hurwitz followed through on these plans, Montgomery County Police arrested him, according to records and mediareports.
The police narrative indicates that Hurwitz admitted having arrangements with women who would come to his D.C. apartment to perform sexual acts.
“Hurwitz explained that he did not want to push [the therapist] past what she was comfortable with because he had one ‘girl’ who ‘they would do things’ at his DC apartment and afterward she would seem to get scared and shut down from him and he would have to restart the process with her each time getting her back to a level she was comfortable with,” the detective wrote in the report.
The therapist, who is identified by police as a licensed massage therapist and physical therapist, notified law enforcement Aug. 16, the day after her encounter with Hurwitz.
The therapist told police that during the massage Hurwitz asked her to “rub his balls” but “only if you are comfortable.” He also told her: “If you would be willing to go a little higher, your tip would improve,” and “I could be your best paying client,” according to court records.
Those records say Hurwitz Googled himself and showed the image to the therapist.
Hurwitz also allegedly asked the victim if she made house calls and offered her $300 to massage his testicles, court records say.
The therapist told police that she changed her massage technique when Hurwitz seemed to become sexually aroused. The therapist ended the massage 10 minutes early, she told police, due to Hurwitz’s “increasingly sexual behavior.”
Hurwitz paid for the massage and again asked the therapist if she would make a house call, which she declined. The therapist told police that he left $300 for a $145 massage, court records say.
Later that same day, per the court record, Hurwitz texted the therapist: “Great massage.”
“I’m glad you enjoyed it,” the therapist responded.
Hurwitz wrote back, “Did you?”
Hurwitz texted again more than two hours later: “Hello.” according to court records.
The following morning, Aug. 16, Hurwitz left a voicemail on the therapist’s phone: “Hey [therapist], it’s Seth,” Hurwitz said according to court records. “If you want to just text me and let me know what you decided about tomorrow umm if not then maybe we can look at scheduling something.”
That same day, the therapist also exchanged text messages with Hurwitz in the presence of two Montgomery County detectives, who provided samples of their conversation. In the text exchange, Hurwitz invites the therapist to “come over for what we did yesterday and see how you’re feeling,” according to court records. “I am not looking for anything other than what you are comfortable with,” he texted. At one point later he asked, “You don’t like looking at cock?’
That evening, Hurwitz called the therapist, who spoke with him on speaker phone while detectives listened, the document states.
One detective instructed the therapist to tell Hurwitz she was concerned about her license.
“Hurwitz responded that he had a lot more to lose than she did and that’s why he did not like texting as opposed to phone calls,” according to the detective’s summary of the conversation. “Hurwitz then stated he was going to ‘delete all of the messages’ and was originally concerned the [therapist] was trying to set him up.”
At the direction of detectives, the therapist negotiated with Hurwitz over price, length of time, various sex acts, and location. Hurwitz said he has an apartment across from his business “that I would have you come to.” Hurwitz also said he would pay extra for oral sex, according to the detective’s description in court records.
When the therapist asked if she would get paid before or after, Hurwitz said he was “offended by the question,” according to the detective, and said the millionaire celebrities he deals with in his business don’t get paid until the “gig is over.”
The following day, Aug. 17, Hurwitz texted the therapist to say that he could come to her place of business the following Wednesday, Aug. 21, court records say.
“Will do, just massage or did you want me to suck you off too?” the therapist texted.
“That is so excellent,” Hurwitz responded, according to court records. “Let’s start w massage and see how it goes.”
When the therapist asked if their previous agreement of $1,000 still stood, Hurwitz wrote: “Lets do 500 for 60 min massage everything.”
“1000 was for home visit plus BJ,” he allegedly texted, and later: “You haven’t even massaged my balls yet,” according to court records.
On Aug. 21, police set up surveillance outside the victim’s business and arrested Hurwitz as he walked to the building, according to the report. In his left front pocket, police found 10 $100 bills that were “loose and not near his wallet,” the report says.
A detective showed Hurwitz printed copies of text messages with the therapist, and Hurwitz confirmed that he sent them, according to court records.
Hurwitz has built a widely acclaimed music business over the past 40 years. With his business partner Rich Heinecke, Hurwitz started the music booking company I.M.P. in 1980. It became the exclusive booker of 9:30 Club in 1983 and in 1986, became the owner of the club originally located at 930 F St. NW. Hurwitz and Heinecke moved the club uptown, to its current home at 815 V St. NW, in 1995. That room is regularly named one of the best clubs in America by national music publications. In addition to owning and operating 9:30 Club, I.M.P. also books shows at the Lincoln Theatre, Merriweather Post Pavilion, and U Street Music Hall, and runs The Anthem, a 6,000-seat mega-venue at The Wharf that opened in 2017.
He frequently participates in documentaries about D.C. in the ’80s and ’90s, among them The Legend of Cool Disco Dan, the Foo Fighters’ Sonic Highways series, and WETA’s Washington in the ’80s and Washington in the ’90s. Hurwitz also played a role in the 2018 film Green Book, and has appeared on the HBO series Treme and The Wire, according to IMDB.
Hurwitz is identified as one of several people who advised City Paper owner Mark Ein on the purchase of this paper in January, 2018.
UPDATE: Thursday afternoon, the communications director for Hurwitz’s company, I.M.P., released a statement from his attorney, Paul F. Kemp: “In response to the numerous inquiries about the misdemeanor charge placed yesterday, it is far too early to comment on the allegation. The facts will come out in due course. In the meantime, we ask that you give consideration to Seth and his family. Seth is presumed innocent under our laws. We look forward to a prompt resolution of this case.”
The email from Hurwitz’s company also included a note to his employees. It says: “Folks…
Obviously the recent events have caused a great deal of embarrassment to everybody.
We are working to resolve this…I only ask that you don’t pass judgment until that day.
But, until then, this is not a matter that concerns our business and please soldier on as usual, doing the great jobs that have made us who we are…and I say WE because who we are is not just about me.
I am, however…VERY sorry for any embarrassment & stress this is causing any of you.”