Sex Trafficking May Be Hard to Prove in FL Parlor Probe

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More than a week after authorities announced that a web of investigations into massage parlors across Florida found women performing sex acts for money, officials have not yet filed any trafficking charges. Instead, after media attention over solicitation charges against New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, the investigation has led mostly to prostitution charges. While law enforcement officials and advocates for victims suspect human trafficking was part of what occurred in the Florida parlors, they acknowledge it probably will be difficult to prove, the Washington Post reports. “I believe human trafficking is heavily involved in what’s going on at all these spas,” said Bruce Colton, a Florida prosecutor. “But believing it and being able to prove it in court are two different things.”

Ten spas were closed as a result of the investigation and more than 200 people were charged with crimes. Most of them are men who, like Kraft, face misdemeanor charges of soliciting prostitution. Police say they have videos of hundreds of sex acts occurring in exchange for money. How Kraft and others discovered strip-mall parlors such as Orchids of Asia is unclear. These kinds of facilities are catalogued on websites that host reviews and document what visitors can expect. The Jupiter, Fl., police department said a Google search for Orchids of Asia turned up an online forum where “customers, seemingly all male . . . discuss their individual experiences at illicit massage parlors.” Somy Ali of No More Tears, a Florida group that helps victims of trafficking and domestic violence, thinks police “should have gone in sooner. Law enforcement knows what they’re doing, they have their reasons for what they did, but my heart always, always is for the victims. Their conditions, what they were going through, was just atrocious.”

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