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New York residents face felony charges in day spa investigation

Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights residents pride themselves for being close-knit and more family oriented than the big city of New York, New York that is located nearby. In mid-July, however, their reputation was slightly tarnished when the results of were released. Nineteen people from a dozen different massage parlors or day spas were arrested. For the 19 people now facing felony charges, the reputation of the region may be the last thing on their mind.

One police official suggested there were far too many massage businesses to treat legitimate problems, such as back aches. The quick success of such a business in that region -- six opened in the past two years in the same area -- aroused suspicion. Investigations were conducted on 19 parlors, and arrests were made at 12 of those 19. The other seven parlors appeared to provide legitimate services.

All 19 individuals were charged with unauthorized practice of a profession, while 10 were charged with prostitution or promoting prostitution. Massage therapists must have a license to practice in the state of New York. All those arrested were immigrants from Asia, which prompted the Brooklyn district attorney's office to investigate whether they were brought here as sex slaves. If so, trafficking charges against those deemed responsible could result..

Prostitution or promoting prostitution is a misdemeanor, but unauthorized practice of a profession is a felony. Though the public is sometimes quick to judge, especially when serious charges of this nature are filed, our criminal justice system requires that each person accused be treated fairly and impartially. Each of these adults currently faces felony charges, but they are each entitled to the same presumption of innocence that protects all individuals accused of a crime in New York.

Source: The New York Times, "Prostitution Investigation at Day Spas Results in 19 Arrests," Joseph Berger, July 11, 2013