They practice with a strict code of ethics, and the intent to help heal.
But massage therapist, instructor and industry expert Jennifer Cull said all too often, places posing as massage businesses are actually doing things that are sexual and illegal.
“They’re fronts. They’re fronts for sexual services, human trafficking,” said Cull, who also is president of the Ohio chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association.
In Kettering, there are 40 massage establishes in the city.
They include places that have seen four arrests since 2014 and two more are under investigation.
The city of Kettering is looking to join Springboro, Centerville, West Carrollton and Huber Heights, among others, with new, tougher laws. Miamisburg is working on it, too.
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Kettering wants everyone practicing massage to have a license.
“The biggest thing is public safety. The general public does not know the difference between someone who has proper education, has had received formalized training, has taken a national test,” Cull said.
State leaders also are working to strengthen regulations on massage businesses across Ohio.
“It was just an awful neighbor to have for five years.”
That’s what a neighboring business owner told Miami Twp. trustees in the spring about a suspected human trafficking operation authorities said was posing as a massage parlor in state Route 725.
“It’s as simple as this,” Cull said. “Do you have a license? Let me see it. If you do not, then you cannot perform massage.”
Cull is among those pushing for the state law to require everyone to be licensed. She said it’s also about getting dangerous businesses out of shopping centers we all visit.
“They don’t want these sex businesses. They don’t want it in the city. We don’t want it in the state of Ohio,” she said.