CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Following a nationwide trend of prostitution and human trafficking in massage parlors, Chesterfield County leaders are discussing new regulations.
Chesterfield Police said the owner of Lee Flower BodyWork Massage was arrested and charged with “lewdness, assignation, or prostitution” back in May.
According to the meeting agenda of the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors, leaders are set to discuss new rules for massage parlors and employees operating in the county.
A spokesperson from Chesterfield police said there are several ongoing investigations into massage parlors for prostitution and human trafficking despite state regulations.
“The solicitation for sexual acts within massage parlors is a national problem. We continue to combat these illicit massage businesses locally but our current Code of Ordinances for the County of Chesterfield are limited and does not allow for any oversight or accountability,” police said.
The proposed changes would require businesses to:
- Reinstitute a requirement for both massage clinics and massage therapists to obtain a permit from the County, which will include a criminal background check.
- Require the clinic and therapists to display their County permits publicly.
- Issue photo identification cards to therapists that must be produced upon inspection of the Police Department.
- Require clinics to maintain a register containing the name and date of employment of each licensed therapist employed at the clinic.
- Establish hours of operation for massage clinics.
- Modify the definition of massage in accordance with current State Law definitions.
- Provide for revocation of the County permits if the ordinance is violated.
- Authorize civil action by the County Attorney to ensure compliance with the ordinance (this is in addition to potential criminal prosecution by the Commonwealth Attorney).
Existing businesses would be expected to comply to the ordinance within 60 days if passed.
“Our goal, is to allow for the employees of massage parlors and their customers to have a clean and safe place to work and receive massage therapy. The proposed changes to the code would allow for the oversight necessary to not only endorse a clean and safe environment but to also ensure compliance with the law,” said a spokesperson from Chesterfield Police.
The spokesperson further said: “We do not want to hinder or discourage legitimate business owners. We want to validate those business owners as the standard by implementing these changes to help protect their business and reputation. In order to do that, consistency and fairness in our enforcement efforts is not only necessary, but it is required.”
How law enforcement plans to work with the county to conduct inspections and ensure businesses are in compliance has not yet been confirmed.
According to the proposed regulations, businesses who violate the rules could face civil or criminal charges. The fine would not exceed $1,000 and a sentence would not exceed one year. The County Attorney could also seek an injunction, abatement or other measures based on a violation.