Three Berkeley massage parlors are under investigation after reports of illegal prostitution surfaced.
According to Berkeleyside, Crystal Massage has relinquished its permit voluntarily, and was given 120 days to vacate the premesis. Acupressure Health Center and Berkeley Alouette have both vacated their properties, and the City Council will review their permits for considered revocation in July.
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Suspicion regarding illegal activity arose after dozens of reviews were posted about the massage parlors on prostitution review websites including myRedBook and Rubmaps. Furthermore, all three reviews on Crystal Massage's Yelp page mention prostitution.
The recent Berkeley crackdown is the latest in a countywide effort against illegal prostitution, human trafficking and sexual exploitation. According to CNS News, the effort has included investigations into more than 20 massage parlors in Berkeley.
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Head of Sexual Assault Division Casey Bates noted that the county effort includes not only law enforcement, but also community outreach, education and support. Next week, Oakland will host a national conference on human exploitation.
"The Bay Area is kind of an epicenter for this kind of activity," said Bates to HuffPost. "So we see this not just as a law enforcement issue, but as a community-wide effort."
Bates noted that, of those involved with next week's conference, 70 percent are in non-law enforcement roles.
"This reminds me of other points in our history when we saw things differently," said Bates. "There was a time when we blamed women for being raped because of the clothing they wore. Obviously, we don't do that anymore. I think this issue is the new frontier."
According to Berkeleyside, attorneys for both Berkeley Alouette and Acupressure Health Center noted a lack of evidence, and chastised the city for relying solely on online reviews.
But investigators also found that all three of the businesses were violating city code regarding employee Establishment Permits.