County Massage Parlors Come Under Scrutiny

Some parlors in the county have been shut down due to inappropriate business practices.


It’s a treat that many people look forward to and view as a luxury: a relaxing massage to relax those tired muscles.

However, while many massage parlors are long-standing businesses with legitimate clientele, some massage parlors have become targets of investigations due to additional activity that sometimes occurs behind closed doors.

In June, a Menlo Park  because of alleged bribes to county officials. Bao Ling Qi plead no contest to repeated attempts to offer bribes to county officials, but what she insisted were traditional Chinese cultural customs to offer gifts. 

In San Carlos, residents’ complaints regarding Oriental Massage’s practices  of Shu Yan Zhang, 49, for allegedly soliciting for prostitution. Three separate arrests for prostitution were made in the last two years at the facility.

In Millbrae, the Police Department  after sending in undercover officers to solicit sex in August 2011. Officers began investigating Life Reflection and Acupressure Help Center after receiving complaints from residents on the frequency of men patronizing the businesses.

The Redwood City city council made a formal recommendation to  within city boundaries.

According to Supervisor Don Horsley, such establishments can be easily identified by the contents of their advertisements.

There are many websites and publications dedicated to discussions of erotic massage parlors. When an establishment advertises on such websites, especially in a way that is “enticing”, that should be a tip-off that the massage parlor likely offers other services, says Horsley, who served as San Mateo County Sheriff in the 1990s.

Horsley has instructed his staff to take down reports from constituents of suspected erotic massage parlors.

“Constituents are our eyes and ears,” he said.

When a tip is credible, that information is passed to authorities to investigate.

Massage therapy experts say that legitimate massage parlors should ensure that they send the right signals to clients to ensure they are aware that a massage is all they are getting.

Melanie Marden of High Maintenance Mobile spa told Inside Edition that she insists on keeping clients covered up during massages. In addition, she instructs her therapists to leave the room if clients begin to get the wrong idea.

For those who have no issue with erotic massages, Horsely added that many masseuses are human trafficking victims who are brought to perform such acts against their will.

“We’re trying to get it out to the public that massage parlors are a prime target not just for prostitution but also for human trafficking.”


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Bren September 06, 2012 at 05:06 PM
"For those who have no issue with erotic massages, Horsely added that many masseuses are human trafficking victims who are brought to perform such acts against their will." And therefore we should spend massive amounts of taxpayer dollars and police and DA man hours persecuting the sex workers who have no connection whatsoever to human trafficking? How does that make sense? As for the rare case where you do find a massage parlor where human trafficking has occurred, is there a policy in place to provide legal aid and social services to the trafficking victim? Or will she be treated like a criminal? Too often the answer is the latter. Human trafficking is an abominable thing, but what we see again and again with these types of anti-sex-worker witch hunts is that civic leaders and police use the term to excuse and justify practices which are abusive toward sex workers and further deprive them of the ability to control their lives, not to mention their rights as human beings.
Michael G. Stogner September 06, 2012 at 08:39 PM
San Mateo County Sheriff's Office is well known for supporting sex workers as customers.....http://www.lvrj.com/news/7183331.html
Bren September 06, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Michael, I don't think it's fair to characterize the entire Sheriff's Department by the actions of two of its employees, but I do see how the article you linked to could be seen as somewhat relevant to any discussion of sex workers in San Mateo County.
Michael G. Stogner September 06, 2012 at 10:35 PM
Bren, You are right and I did not mean to imply the entire organization, just the top 2 leaders. Michael


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