The Los Angeles city attorney’s office is trying to ban a group of massage parlor owners from operating within the city, accusing them of running fronts for prostitution in Eagle Rock and other areas, officials said Wednesday.
In a lawsuit citing the state’s Red Light Abatement Law, City Atty. Mike Feuer alleges that the owners of four massage parlors have, for years, operated the businesses as brothels and advertised their services on Craigslist.
The suit was filed last month and names operations in Eagle Rock, Wilmington and North Hollywood, according to a statement from Feuer's office.
The lawsuit seeks to ban the defendants from owning similar businesses within city limits, and would also prevent the new massage businesses from operating in the abated locations. The suit also seeks to impose fines against the businesses and property owners, city officials said.
“We allege these massage parlors are epicenters of illicit activity that exploit women and blight communities,” Feuer said in a statement. “Today we are taking strong action to put a stop to it.”
Two of the properties were in Eagle Rock, one was in Wilmington and one was in North Hollywood.
One business shared a parking lot with a nonprofit children’s art school and a church, officials said. Authorities found a bin for used condoms at one location and $67,000 in cash in an owner’s home, according to the lawsuit.
Eagle Rock saw a flood massage parlor openings a few years ago after a 2009 state law allowed for voluntary state certification for massage therapists. As a result, therapists were not subjected to local law enforcement vetting.
Lawmakers in Los Angeles failed to require the businesses to show proof of their state certification and the businesses began sprouting up, according to a 2011 Times article on Eagle Rock’s businesses.
Feuer claims the businesses included in the lawsuit have been operating in the area since 2011.
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