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Massage parlors draw public ire: Johns Creek residents complain businesses thinly disguised sex dens



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April 23, 2013
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – More than 50 people showed up at the April 22 Johns Creek City Council meeting to ask the city to do something about the growing number of massage parlors in the city, which they say are just fronts for sex-for-hire shops.

Those who stayed after the council meeting got a frank discussion led by the city manager, city attorney and police chief. That message was that there is sex for hire going on in many of these parlors and there is not a lot the city can do to discourage it.

During citizen comment, Duane Armstrong said darkly lit massage parlors have sprung up along Medlock Bridge Road. Websites advertising their services are “blatant and in your face,” he said. These establishments are offering sex for sale.

He said he found eight parlors in one 3- to 4-mile area. “Client reviews” leave no doubt as to what transpires inside, he said.

Larry Hamlin rose to say that he was concerned that such parlors will affect the city’s brand and affect property values.

Dr. Glenda Brown said while talking to a teenage patient, he told her how students would go to these places for “massages.”

“Our teenagers should not be exposed to this,” she said.

The residents were told while the City Council does not respond at that meeting to public comment, this time they would allow City Manager John Kachmar to explain after the meeting Johns Creek’s attempts to rid the city of such businesses and why they have been largely unsuccessful.

Some 40 or so hung around to hear what Kachmar, City Attorney Bill Riley and Police Chief Ed Densmore had to say.

The news was not encouraging. There are 12 massage parlors operating in the city. While some are lawfully run businesses, others are well-organized sex shops.

Densmore explained that his officers can make undercover arrests of the girls – and have made seven or eight arrests. But it is time-consuming and takes manpower. The undercover officer must have corroboration so he wears a wire to record what is said. Other officers nearby are listening and are also necessary for security.

“But these people have been doing this a long time. Often nothing happens the first time or second. They want to build a relationship before anything happens,” Densmore said.

Kachmar said even making these cases doesn’t do much good. Usually the girl is bonded out and merely pays a fine. She may be sent to another house in another county or another state. And that does nothing to shut down the business.

Riley told residents the only thing that deters the operators is to arrest the madam or the owner on a license violation. That is a local charge, and they can be given time for that.

Riley explained the arrests of the prostitutes do not stop the business, and these women are the biggest victims in the crime already. The law is such that if a case is made against the madam or owner on sex charges, it will be tried in Fulton County court and will end in a fine.

“This is a misdemeanor, and Fulton County does not have room in its jails for misdemeanor crimes,” Riley said.

Most of the laws work in the owners’ favor. As long as they maintain the staff’s licenses and can produce logs of their client services, there is not a lot the city can do, said Kachmar. But he said that does not mean the city is giving up. They will continue to try to go after the owners and the madams. They will likely leave if they spend real time in jail and face the prospect of more.

But that is hard to do.

“The only really effective way is to discourage the client side of the equation,” Kachmar said.

If the men go away, then the business goes away. But when residents asked how they could do that, the city officers did not have much advice.

Demonstrations could be done in the public right of way, but unless they were sustained over a long period, it would not keep the men away.

Residents left, grateful that the police and city were trying to do something.

They also are looking at ways they can get involved in discouraging the trade.

Resident Kathy Bogardus said she already knew there was an issue.

“But I feel like we can do something. But citizens have to get involved and protect our city,” she said.

This article was published in the Johns Creek Herald April 25, 2013 edition

CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW TO READ LETTER TO EDITOR:

http://www.northfulton.com/Articles-LETTERS-c-2013-04-25-198504.114126-sub-LETTER-TO-EDITOR-Johns-Creek-massage-parlors-raise-citizen-concerns.html ;

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Tags: Government & News & Crime

  1. report print email
    massage parlors..
    April 24, 2013 | 12:55 PM

    if you kick them out of Johns Creek, they will only move. There is one on McFarland Rd exit 12B, in the same building strip as the Cheveron, at the corner of McFarland and Union Hill. Now there is one of those "stay by the week" motels. Guess where newly released jail birds are going to go??? there are no schools around there, so my guess is that it will be mostly sex offenders! I wish now I had not purchased a home off union hill rd.

    terri
    alpharetta
  2. report print email
    Follow in Alpharetta's footsteps
    April 24, 2013 | 01:36 PM

    Alpharetta recently put more teeth into their massage parlor ordinance. It makes the process of opening such a business very difficult, hopefully stopping it before it starts. Unfortunately this will only push the parlors into neighboring areas like south Forsyth and Johns Creek.

    S Lee Guy
    Alpharetta, GA
  3. report print email
    Gwinnett
    April 24, 2013 | 09:38 PM

    Gwinnett also makes it very difficult to open these sex parlors. Since then, it seems as if these parlors have moved to Johns Creek! I agree with S Lee Guy that the process of opening these businesses should become much more strict and laws should be enforced through firm measures.

    Park
    Johns Creek, GA
  4. report print email
    Gwinnett
    April 24, 2013 | 09:38 PM

    Gwinnett also makes it very difficult to open these sex parlors. Since then, it seems as if these parlors have moved to Johns Creek! I agree with S Lee Guy that the process of opening these businesses should become much more strict and laws should be enforced through firm measures.

    Park
    Johns Creek, GA
  5. report print email
    Gwinnett
    April 24, 2013 | 09:38 PM

    Gwinnett also makes it very difficult to open these sex parlors. Since then, it seems as if these parlors have moved to Johns Creek! I agree with S Lee Guy that the process of opening these businesses should become much more strict and laws should be enforced through firm measures.

    Park
    Johns Creek, GA
  6. report print email
    Gwinnett
    April 24, 2013 | 09:38 PM

    Gwinnett also makes it very difficult to open these sex parlors. Since then, it seems as if these parlors have moved to Johns Creek! I agree with S Lee Guy that the process of opening these businesses should become much more strict and laws should be enforced through firm measures.

    Park
    Johns Creek, GA
  7. report print email
    Enforcement
    April 26, 2013 | 10:07 AM

    It's definitely a good strategy to make it harder for them to open, but what do you do about the ones already open? I think if we enforce the law and send the pimps/owners to prison, it would send a pretty strong message to criminals that they will be held accountable for their actions, making the crime more risky. Also, prison would resolve the problem of them moving their business elswhere - because they can't do that from prison. And connecting with some aftercare professionals for the sex trafficking victims in these places (Asian massage parlors are a top source for sex trafficking and forced prostitution) is a must.

    Christina
    Johns Creek
  8. report print email
    This Article
    April 29, 2013 | 10:22 AM

    Why do you all assume these places have to be shut down? They don't cause any problems. They're not loud. They're not dirty. They don't promote burglaries. They're quite helpful, IMHO. If you don't like them then don't go there. Otherwise, leave them alone. Geesh!!!

    Richard Copsuck
    Roswell
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