Ohio lawmaker proposes bill to regulate massage businesses, curb human trafficking

Now, a for rent sign is in the front yard, because Healthy Massage was evicted just a few weeks ago.

Now, nearby businesses are asking for action to make sure a similar situation doesn’t happen again in the community.

The massage business was actually a suspected human trafficking operation along the busy stretch of Miamisburg-Centerville Road, according to detectives with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators said there were several victims, and that they raided the same place more than three years before for the same reason.

As part of News Center 7’s recent I-Team Investigation into human trafficking, Ohio’s top leader in charge of the problem said illicit massage parlors are a growing problem in the state. 

“Establishments that are posing as a massage establishment, however, also commercially sexually exploiting people,” Sophia Papadimos, anti-trafficking coordinator said. 

The owner of the medical office next to the Miami Twp. business went to Miami Twp. trustees Tuesday night, urging them to adopt stricter rules. 

“It was just an awful neighbor to have for five years ... and it just brings the township down,” the office owner said. 

But trustees said they are limited. As a township, they can’t pass the same sort of regulations on massage businesses that cities can. 

But Senate Bill 105, introduced by Sen. Andrew Brenner, R-Powell, hopes to change that. 

It could, among other things, require all people performing massages, even in townships, be licensed by the medical board, the board of nursing or one of several other reputable agencies. 

Lawmakers said the goal is to cut down on human trafficking. 

“There is an extremely large loophole in current law, which allows any individual to perform massage without a license so long as the activity is advertised as something other than massage therapy, i.e. relaxation massage or Asian massage,” Brenner said.

As part of the bill, the state would clarify what is massage therapy. But specifically left out of that definition is the sort of sexual-related services deputies and some neighboring businesses have said were being performed at the former Healthy Massage. 

The bill is still in the early stages. It would have to pass the Ohio House and Ohio Senate and then get the governor’s signature.

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