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Ordinance to stop sex trafficking would penalize lawful massage businesses, Louisiana Board of Massage Therapy says

1 year 3 weeks 5 days ago Wednesday, May 03 2023 May 3, 2023 May 03, 2023 10:04 PM May 03, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE- Councilman Rowdy Gaudet says several businesses in East Baton Rouge Parish are suspected of being linked to sex trafficking.

That is why he wants to pass an ordinance that would stop anyone with a felony sex crime from owning a massage business.

"This has become an industry that has unfortunately gotten a reputation," Gaudet told WBRZ last week. "There has been reports for 27 businesses just in East Baton Rouge Parish, that have been reported for human trafficking activity."

A closer look at the ordinance shows that any operator trying to have a registered massage establishment has to give a "nonrefundable" fee of $100 for a business that employs one massage therapist.

For a business with two or more therapists, the fee would increase to $200.

WBRZ reached out to the Louisiana Board of Massage Therapy. They said the change would put a burden on licensed massage businesses because many of the brothels disguised as spas are not licensed. 

In March, multiple massage parlors around the parish were raided by deputies and two owners were arrested. The Board says the owners operated illegally after their license was revoked.

The following statement was sent by the Board of Massage Therapy on Wednesday: 

"The ordinance will help ensure that businesses registered with the City-Parish have current state licenses; however, the ordinance will impose a fee and an annual background check on licensed massage establishments. As you can see from the arrests reported, many illicit massage businesses were not licensed by the Board and others continued to operate after the Board revoked their license."

Gaudet told WBRZ that his ordinance is not perfect, but it would give more teeth at the local level to investigate and shut down businesses involved in sex trafficking.

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