New information from released police reports show that two of the spas in Atlanta, Ga. attacked on Tuesday were targeted by police on suspicions of prostitution in the past, ABC News reports. These findings seem to contradict statements made by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms earlier this week about the legal operations of the spas.
“As far as we know in Atlanta these are legally operating businesses that have not been on our radar, not on the radar of APD (the Atlanta Police Department),” Bottoms said at a news conference the day after the shootings. She emphasized that her intention was not to blame the victims.
In response to the news of police investigation into the legality of the spas, spokeswoman for the mayor Elise M. Durham made note of the timing and wording of Bottoms’ comments.
“‘As far as we know’ is the operative piece of that sentence,” Durham said, according to The New York Times. “Obviously this was less than 24 hours after the incident. The most recent incident that we know of was in 2014, which obviously predates this administration by several years. As the investigation continues, we are continuing to find new information.”
The records demonstrate that police arrested at least 11 people at Gold Spa after massage therapists “offered to perform sexual acts on undercover officers for money.” They arrests were made between 2011 and 2014, and the women were charged with “prostitution, keeping a place of prostitution, masturbation for hire and other offenses.”
Academic studies such as “Illicit Massage Parlours in Los Angeles County and New York City: Stories from Women Workers” (2019) have found that the various reasons employees at massage businesses that illicitly offer sexual services include paying off debts, sending money to supporting family back home in native countries such as China and South Korea or finding a stable place to live, work and eat. According to the New York Times, the reports state that some of the women arrested listed the spa as both their residence and work address.
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