BEAVERCREEK — Beavercreek massage businesses could face tighter regulations if city council approves some new rules aimed at fighting sex trafficking.
An ordinance — that would require massage businesses to register annually with the city — was introduced Sept. 14 and could be approved by council Monday, Sept. 28.
“Human trafficking is a real problem,” said Randall Burkett, planning and development director. “It exists. Beavercreek is not immune to that. We’ve been getting complaints of illegal various activities going on at massage parlors, particularly at late at night.”
Surrounding communities, including Xenia, have similar legislation, which drives the business to Beavercreek.
“It makes Beavercreek kind of an attractive place to run that kind of business,” Burkett said, adding that enforcement of that type of activity is challenging without legislation.
“If the City were to maintain status quo … in most instances arrest for these illegal activities would be on the individual who performs the massage or other illegal activity, rather than the human trafficker (i.e. the business owner),” according to the staff report presented to city council. “Arresting the trafficked individual doesn’t discourage the business from relocating, but encourages traffickers to find new victims to bring in. The proposed massage services providers regulations will hold the business itself accountable, and give the city the flexibility to investigate reports of illegal activities without the need for expensive, and potentially dangerous sting operations.”
Under the proposed addition to the city’s codified ordinances, businesses would have 60 days after passage to register with the city.
The registrant must provide, among other items, names and addresses of any massage businesses he or she has been associated with, employed by or an independent contractor for during the preceding 10 years; and a description of any criminal conviction other than minor misdemeanor and traffic in the preceding five years.
Each massage therapist, practitioner, employee, and/or independent contractor must be registered with the city, and new hires must be registered within 30 days of hiring.
There are myriad reasons the city can deny registration including sex-related offenses, two or more felonies in the last five years, and offenses involving theft or the use of force or violence upon another person.
The business must also keep accurate records of each service provided, and the name of the patron and therapist. Massage businesses may not operate between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Chiropractic offices, hospitals, colleges, and physical and occupational therapy businesses are exempt from registering, as the legislation is meant to curb illegal activity.
Burkett said while they were working on the legislation, they reached out to massage businesses in the city and received “a lot of good feedback.”
Beavercreek resident Virginia Brembeck, who works for the Women’s Centers of Ohio, said the proposed changes to the code is an “excellent way” to shut down illegitimate businesses.
“We actually see the victims, we call them victims, not workers, that are being taken in,” she said. “Victims are taken into custody, bailed out, disciplined, and sent up the (Interstate) 75 corridor.”
According to Brembeck, who cited a watch-dog report, illicit massage is No. 1 among the list of top sex and labor traffic types.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.