December 11, 2008

From the Desk of Phil Burress
President of Citizens for Community Values

Citizens’ E-Courier · December 11, 2008

Massage parlors, human trafficking, and CityBeat

“[S]omeone needs to stand up for local people who engage in these types of businesses. They need to have outlets for promoting their admittedly alternative goods and services, and CityBeat is proud to be one of those outlets.”
CityBeat Editor John Fox, CityBeat editorial June 11, 2008

Note:  The Trend Spa mentioned in the article below was a regular advertiser in CityBeat until being shut down by law enforcement officials. One of the ads from CityBeat is displayed here. You can also see all of the ads CityBeat is proud of by clicking here.

Trial makes massage spas sound about as sexy as carwash
– Peter Bronson, Cincinnati.Com Last Updated: 1:04 pm | Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Take off the fishnet stockings and the massage-parlor makeup, and the world’s oldest profession doesn’t look so hot. Watching prostitution get undressed in front of a judge and jury in a brightly lit federal courtroom last week was about as sexy as details of grandpa’s prostate exam.

” ‘Working girl’ means massage involves sex,” Yong Williams explained. The Korean-American woman’s soft, almost demure broken English clashed with her raw descriptions of the sex trade like hot pants with black knee socks.

The well-dressed, 54-year-old Cheviot woman looked more like a shopper at Saks or Macy’s than the ringleader of an interstate sex trade. But when she was arrested in a raid of a dozen massage parlors and spas in Ohio, Northern Kentucky and southeastern Indiana, investigators from the IRS, Immigration, the Postal Service and local law enforcement said she was the banker and organizer of a national sex ring that earned her $545,000 in one year.

“She was a big player,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Ben Dusing told the jury.

Along with two other women from Northern Kentucky, Williams has already pleaded guilty to conspiracy, racketeering and a false tax return. She was in the Covington federal court Tuesday to reduce her prison term by testifying against her former close friend, Myong Rogers, on trial for prostitution and racketeering.

As Rogers listened to a Korean interpreter and stared icicles at Williams, the “big player” talked about “spas” (brothels), “working girls” (prostitutes), “house guests” (johns or customers) and “the boats” (Argosy and other Indiana casinos where she met Rogers and gambled).

Court documents show how their prostitution business was boosted by casino customers and coupons in alternative newspapers. The story is not unique to our region.

Korean massage parlors – where owners and employees are virtually all Koreans – have also made headlines with similar raids in Houston, San Francisco, New York, Rhode Island and other states, cities and towns. Massage parlors and spas are not all illegal. The vast majority of Korean immigrants are not involved in spas or the sex trade.

But the sex trade is not a “victimless crime.”

Many working girls are illegal immigrants, smuggled through Canada or Mexico. They’re promised jobs as housecleaners or waitresses. Instead, they’re trapped in spas, giving hands-on showers and a full menu of sex acts to johns, unable to pay off the debt for getting here, handcuffed by language barriers and fear of being deported.

Police said Yong drove 40,000 miles in seven months to deliver girls to spas in Hamilton, Newport and Lawrenceburg. “Customers do not like the same girls there,” she said.

But experts on human trafficking say working girls are rotated to keep them isolated so they won’t go to police.

Williams said Rogers hired and supervised at the Trend Spa in Burlington and sometimes pitched in as a working girl herself. Dusing said Rogers “owned, operated, hired, fired and did everything at the Trend,” which “was in fact a brothel, a place of prostitution.”

Defense lawyer Dennis C. Alerding questioned the motives of the government witnesses, and painted Rogers as a sympathetic divorced single mom, “a working woman – in the real sense,” who participated in the sex side only because she grew up in Korea, “where the man is the boss.”

“She would perform a service for someone just to get them out of the way,” he said.

I didn’t buy it. The jury didn’t either. They found her guilty.

It’s pretty hard to have any sympathy for someone who exploits young women by running sex spas like carwashes. I wondered how many lives, dreams and marriages she has destroyed.

“This is not pleasant,” Dusing told the jury. “Some of this stuff is just not fun.”

I think the working girls would agree.

To comment, contact Enquirer columnist Peter Bronson at 513-768-8301 or
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