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A year later, police were at the facility - which had been renamed - again and arrested at least two more individuals on prostitution charges, records show. Since then, police, city officials and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have returned numerous times, police reports show. For law enforcement, ificant obstacles make investigating these businesses and shutting them down for good difficult, authorities said. CT Insider reviewed 10 years of police records for 30 Connecticut massage parlors identified on Rub Maps, a website that hosts anonymous reviews from people who claim to have bought sex services at massage parlors.
A CT Insider investigation found that police records show businesses suspected of prostitution often continue to operate. Prostitution arrests mostly focus on the female employees of massage parlors, not the johns patronizing them.
These arrests are often an insufficient tool for combating the sex trade, police said. Police often say they lack resources to back rigorous investigations into prostitution and human trafficking. But only a small fraction of fees from prostitution convictions meant to support those investigations are being collected by the state, the Trafficking in Persons Council said. To charge someone with prostitution, police need to establish that a person is making an offer, the offer is to engage in sexual acts for a fee and the offer is being made to another person.
This is also the basis for charging an owner with running a house of prostitution and for solicitation of prostitution charges. These three prongs can be tricky to prove for police, who have no right to charge into a private business without a warrant. In , New Haven Police surveilled the business for three months, before getting a search warrant, police records show. They suspected the spa was connected to businesses in Wallingford, where prostitution arrests had occurred, records show.
Police noted they found cars coming from New York and Massachusetts to visit. The detectives also employed at least one informant who visited Sun Star Spa on multiple occasions and bought sexual services, records state. Near midnight on July 19, , members of the New Haven Police Tactical Narcotics Unit charged into the business, while one of their informants was inside, police records show. Women ran throughout the spa, trying to escape. Police stopped them. They arrested at least two on charges of prostitution and conspiracy to commit prostitution, records show.
The women later plead guilty, court records show, and were sentenced to conditional discharge. Some of the police records were edited to block the identities of those arrested. Police also found three men — two completely naked, one in his underwear — with the female workers. The men told police they were there to buy sex, police records state. Two saw an advertisement for the business in the New Haven Advocate, a weekly newspaper that is now defunct. Police renewed surveillance of a business at the same address under the new name in January , records show.
They watched the business for nine months. Eventually, they gathered enough evidence for a new search warrant. On Sept. Inside, they arrested three men for patronizing a prostitute. They arrested five female workers, including the supervisor who, plead guilty to permitting prostitution and was sentenced to a conditional discharge, court records show. Police have visited the address on a nearly annual basis, but no subsequent charges were filed or arrests made. When police went to the address in to respond to an alleged robbery, Davis was back working there, although the business was renamed.
The New Haven police did not respond to requests for comment about their investigations of the business. Neither this business nor any other massage business or person affiliated with a massage business named in this story responded to multiple requests for comment. Snugged around Interstate 95 and the Merritt Parkway, Milford has a of massage parlors that police say are on their radar. Without the participation of a victim, police face numerous struggles combatting illegal sex work.
They may struggle to communicate with massage workers, many of whom are East Asian women with poor English, officers said. The massage workers may fear working with police because of their immigration status. The women may also have little information about their employer.
Police may try to use undercover agents to infiltrate these businesses — but that can come at a risk. Now, the department is in jeopardy. The officer is in jeopardy. Police records and media reports show New Haven, Stamford, Greenwich, Milford and East Hartford departments have used undercover officers to investigate prostitution and human trafficking.
One police report indicated that at least one police officer had sexual contact with a massage worker in the course of an investigation. Sometimes these investigations do produce arrests. When arrests are made, they usually net the sex workers. Prostitutes in Connecticut are more than twice as likely to be arrested and almost seven times more likely to be convicted than their customers, the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women found in From to , there were 1, prostitution convictions versus convictions for buying sex from a prostitute, the Commission found by analyzing state Judicial Branch data.
In , no one was arrested or convicted for patronizing a prostitute in Connecticut, according to data from the Trafficking in Persons Council. Some prostitution crimes like running a brothel, forcibly compelling people into prostitution, enticing minors or knowingly profiting from prostitution come with penalties of up to five, 10 or 20 years in prison.
But the more common charges like prostitution, solicitation and permitting prostitution are misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year in prison. That means pimps, johns and sex workers can be back on the street quickly, making it difficult to reduce supply or demand, said Stamford Police Captain Richard Conklin. Busted businesses often reopen under a new name in the same location or in another town. In , the General Assembly passed legislation adding a fee to the penalty for the crimes of patronizing a prostitute, permitting prostitution or promoting prostitution.
The money from these fees is supposed to be used to support human trafficking investigations. In fiscal year , the first year for which data is available, 27 people were found guilty of these crimes, according to the state Trafficking in Persons Council. In only six of those cases the fine was assessed however. Mark Dupuis, a spokesman for the Connecticut Division of Criminal Justice, said this could be because of penalties recommended by prosecutors and imposed by judges.
In , the General Assembly passed legislation requiring training for state public safety, legal and health care employees and hoteliers to be trained to recognize the s of human trafficking. It also required places of public accommodation, like hotels and restaurants, to post information about human trafficking and how to get help. In , the state also formed a Human Trafficking Task Force , composed of investigators from 16 different local departments across Connecticut, as well as state police and the F.
The force has initiated a of arrests. But limited resources constrain the of prostitution and human trafficking investigations and arrests law enforcement can complete. S Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies, they often feel they do not have enough staff to complete long investigations into prostitution and human trafficking.
Police by state law are now required to annually report their work on human trafficking to the Trafficking in Persons Council. In , only 55 out of police departments in the state submitted reports, the Council said.
That may not include investigating places of prostitution. There are real criminals out there. On their own, arrests may not hamper a business, nor can the Department of Labor order an establishment close based on criminal activity. That shifts the battleground to state and municipal statutes and ordinances. Connecticut requires massage therapists to get state-issued s, but not massage parlors, as some states do. The state Department of Public Health can revoke the massage therapy s of individuals who commit felonies, fraud or wrongful conduct.
The Department of Labor can inspect massage parlors, like other businesses, to ensure compliance with state laws regarding payroll and working conditions. Although DOL inspects massage parlors and spas infrequently, at least 24 have been issued temporary stop work orders by DOL since for a variety of reasons. Many towns also issue their own zoning, fire and health regulations of massage parlors. East Hartford has ordinances that require massage therapists to get a local from the city. They also make massage establishments to keep a log of their patrons and what services they purchase.
Milford too requires massage businesses to register their patrons. They also require police-issued permits for massage establishments and workers. Twice a year, massage parlors must pass inspection by police and the Department of Public Health. Prior to opening, massage parlor owners and workers must pass police background checks in Greenwich. In Stamford , massage establishments must get a permit from the director of health to open, after passing an initial screening by the Stamford Police. Any construction, remodeling or conversion of a massage parlor must get approval from the health director and pass inspections.
Fees are also assessed. Requirements like these make it more difficult and expensive for an illegal business to operate and help ensure that businesses that do open are legitimate, Conklin said. Brian A. More News. In-Depth Coverage. CT school where weight-loss camp was held terminates contract.
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