Beavercreek cracks down on sex trafficking with new massage parlor law

MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Beavercreek likely will join other area cities enacting a new law that places stricter rules and licensing on massage businesses in an effort to combat sex trafficking.

Beavercreek city council members will vote Sept. 28 on a plan to require any massage business in the Greene County city to register with the city and provide a list of employees. All new employees must be registered with the city within a month of their start date. A business must renew its registration every year.

“If a massage business is a front for human trafficking, we can only address the individual doing the act, we can’t stop the business under current rules,” City Manager Pete Landrum said. “So this would give us the ability to shut the business down.”

Kettering and Miamisburg also recently passed similar legislation.

Massage businesses can be used as a cover for illegal activities, Miamisburg City Planner Ryan Homsi said at Tuesday night’s Miamisburg City Council meeting. He mentioned a 2018 raid near the Dayton Mall. Raids also have occurred in Centerville, Kettering, West Carrollton and Fairborn.

Springboro passed an ordinance like this in 2016. Springboro Police Chief Jeff Kruithoff said this legislation has eliminated any suspicious spas.

“This legislation is very effective,” Kruithoff said. “This has gone really well. We haven’t had any issues since passing it. It gives the city an enforcement mechanism that is cleaner that having an undercover officer go in.”

With the new Beavercreek legislation, the city can investigate any massage business that doesn’t renew its license or comply with other stipulations.

Virginia Brembeck, who works for the Women’s Centers of Ohio, said her organization often sees the victims in these sex trafficking situations if they get pregnant.

“Legislation like this is absolutely imperative,” Brembeck said. “This will help take a bite out of the problem, but this is bigger than Beavercreek. It’s bigger than Ohio.”

ExploreBeavercreek makes decision on backyard chickens request

The Interstate 75 corridor is a hot-spot for sex trafficking, Brembeck said. Massage businesses and spas have been raided or shutdown in Dayton, Fairborn, Miami Twp. and Huber Heights in the past year on suspicion of illegal activities.

“When we see (sex trafficking victims), they are so frightened. They’ll get shipped up the 75 corridor after they see us,” she said.

Every organization should have training on how to spot signs of sex trafficking, Brembeck said, such as staying open late at night, no employee cars or workers who seem to be living at the business.

A woman who declined to give her full name but said she is part-owner of Le Reve Massage and Facial in Beavercreek supports the new legislation, saying any legitimate business shouldn’t have a problem with it.

Landrum said this legislation legitimizes massage businesses that are operating honestly.

“It will help clearly identify who is legitimate and who is not,” Landrum said.

Massage businesses in Beavercreek will have to provide all employees' driver’s licenses or identification cards and other information upon request. The Beavercreek Planning and Development department can deny a permit or registration to any business or massage therapist that has any sex-related offenses on their record, any felonies in the past five years or any drug violations, among other things. Any massage business must also be licensed by the state.

Under this new legislation, massage businesses must post their registration with the city in an easy-to-see place for customers. The business must be lit at all times to show that they are clearly open or closed. The ordinance also says no massages can be given past 10 p.m. or before 7 a.m.

ExploreCenterville to unveil $10M Uptown plan to help businesses, access, traffic flow

Eric Schwartzburg contributed to this report.

In Other News