Day Spa Charges Dismissed

Twenty-two women from nine businesses arrested in June

A so-called prostitution sting that targeted nine Vista day spas three months ago has resulted in dismissed charges for seven defendants according to a defense attorney.

The defendants, all of whom are Asian women, their attorneys and an advocate for one of the women, however, had argued the charges were frivolous, reported the North County Times. At least eight defendants, all spa employees, faced charges brought by city attorneys, not for prostitution, but for a host of Vista municipal code violations, including failing to stock towels inside a cabinet, having a peep hole on massage room doors and the failure to display massage establishment licenses, among other charges.

Andrew Limberg, attorney for one of the seven massage parlor employees/owners who were in court today, said his client and three other employees of the Melrose Day Spa had charges against them dismissed.

The other three defendants from other massage parlors all pleaded to infractions, according to Limberg.

Attorneys for the city say the misdemeanor charges aim to ensure day spas adhere to the law and do not become places of ill repute. If left unchecked, "massage parlors become fronts for other businesses, they become fronts for prostitution ... for slave trade," said Jim Eckart, a contract attorney for Vista who is prosecuting one of the cases.

Many of those arrested in June's undercover operation have already been charged by county prosecutors. Their charges are based on the California Penal Code -- not Vista's municipal code. One defendant has pleaded guilty to prostitution and another pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace, said a spokesman for the county district attorney's office. The county is preparing to take four additional cases to trial, all on prostitution charges.

The multi-agency sting targeted the following businesses: Touch of Asian Day Spa, Seren Acu-Care, Melrose Spa, Vista Town Spa, Bright Acupuncture, JW Acupuncture, Li Jun Acupuncture I, Li Jun Acupuncture II and Vista Health Center, according to the North County Times.

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