Framingham: Police to Crack Down on Sex Trade

Published: August 3, 2015

The following is an article by Danielle Ameden from the Daily News Staff with Wicked Local Framingham. The article was published on July 22, 2015.

Disturbed to know that prostitution and human trafficking is going on in local "bodywork" shops, the Board of Health on Wednesday plan to set regulations to help police with a crackdown. Framingham Detective Sgt. Tim O'Toole, who oversees the street crimes unit, told the board police know of about 10 bodywork establishments and spas in town.

"Going on inside the walls is prostitution and human trafficking in many of these, if not all of them,” O’Toole said. Asian females, mainly coming from New York, are being “moved in and out” of these businesses, treated like prisoners, he said.

Board member David Moore said he was startled at a past meeting to hear about the problem.

“I’m shocked as well,” said new member Laura Housman, who joined the board for her first meeting Wednesday.

Since so-called "bodywork" shops, unlike massage parlors, are unregulated, O’Toole said police could use the regulations as an enforcement tool.

“It’s difficult for us to infiltrate these establishments,” he said.

Board of Health staff has already drawn up draft regulations based on businesses in Arlington, and Chairman Mike Hugo said the board would hold a public hearing and vote in August.

By regulating "bodywork" businesses, the town would require practitioners to obtain permits once a year. Under the draft regulations, workers must fill out an application, submit a photo and pass criminal and sex offender background checks. “I think this criteria should apply to both owners and practitioners,” Moore said. The regulations would prohibit workers from dressing provocatively or the business from having anything exotic or provocative in its advertising, and ban blackout curtains in the waiting room. The businesses could be open only between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m., and must keep records of clients and show proof of liability insurance.

Chief of Community Health Marisa Garofano said the regulations would allow inspectors to make unannounced visits and ask to see the permit of everyone in the business.

O’Toole said he expected a “significant drop” in the number of "bodywork" businesses and problems police are seeing if the town put regulations on the books.

Hugo called the situation "very disturbing."

Hugo and Moore started the meeting by welcoming Housman, who was appointed last month by selectmen to replace Nelson Goldin.

The board voted to have Hugo continue as chairman for another year.

Danielle Ameden can be reached at 508-626-4416 or Follow her on Twitter @damedenMW.