Council Looks to Bring Massage Parlors Under City Control

Recent arrests set off council action.

City councilors want more municipal control over licensing massage parlors after two remained open even after employees were arrested for offering sexual favors for cash.

Council President Robert Maiocco brought a resolution forward, asking city department heads to craft an ordinance that would bring massage therapy licensing under city authority.

The state's Consumer Affairs Division of Professional Licensure currently handles the licensing of such establishments, but that isn't enough Maiocco said during the council's Tuesday night meeting.

“They just don’t have the personnel, in my opinion,” Maiocco said.

The resolution was passed unanimously by the council.

Councilor Rick Caraviello said businesses are able to skirt the state's licensure officials by offering "body work," instead of massage therapy. The difference: body work has no therapudic value, he said.

"That’s how they advertise on their signs," Caraviello said. "They’re offering body work."

Women working at Mixtue Spa and Lavish Spa, both in Medford, were arrested earlier in April for allegedly offering sexual favors for a fee to undercover officers. But that wasn't enough for police to shut down the businesses because neither woman implicated their employer.

"The law isn’t in our favor that way," Medford police Lt. Paul Covino said at the time. "We’re catching a lot of heat from the public on these things, but there isn’t much power on our end to close these places."

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