Attorney general files suit to shut down Crestwood spa for alleged sex trafficking

Attorney+general+files+suit+to+shut+down+Crestwood+spa+for+alleged+sex+trafficking

By Gloria Lloyd, News Editor

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a civil lawsuit Tuesday to try to shut down a Crestwood spa accused of sex trafficking.

Royal Day Spa, 8928 Watson Road in Crestwood, is an “illicit massage business” and needs to be shut down, Schmitt’s office announced Tuesday. This lawsuit is the fifth filed by Schmitt as part of his Office’s Hope Initiative to combat human trafficking in illicit massage businesses.

“Human trafficking is a scourge on our society — a dark underworld that traps victims and reaches to all corners of the globe, including right here in Missouri,” said Schmitt in a news release. “Through my Office’s Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force and our Hope Initiative, we will continue to investigate human trafficking across the state, shut down illicit massage businesses, and work to end this scourge in Missouri.”

Crestwood City Administrator Kris Simpson said the city could not comment on the spa since it is part of an ongoing criminal investigation: “As this is an ongoing legal proceeding of which we are not directly a party, we have no comment.”

The business is along the Watson Road corridor, which the city of Crestwood has tried to clean up in advance of the proposed redevelopment of the Crestwood mall.

The city has objected over the last seven years to the Calvert’s Express oil-change facility, a BriteWorX car wash and the former MagnaVisual factory as not fitting in to the new aesthetic and atmosphere desired for the Watson Road corridor.

But the state now says that an illicit spa was operating along Watson Road the whole time. The attorney general’s office credited the Crestwood Police Department for its extensive investigation on the case leading up to the state’s lawsuit.

Following several traffic stops made by the Crestwood Police Department, three men made reports to law enforcement officers about their experiences at Royal Day Spa, which entailed paying money and tips for sexual favors, according to the attorney general’s account. The men alleged that sexual activity occurred between them and a female masseuse for $60 plus a tip ranging from $20 to $40.

The suit states, “Each statement made to the Crestwood Police Department referenced above described contact between a masseuse’s hands and the male customers’ genitals for the purpose of sexual gratification that resulted in the customers’ ejaculation.”

Additionally, Royal Day Spa was featured on websites where users post their “experiences” at massage businesses, often including graphic descriptions of sexual favors or activity that took place at that massage business.

The lawsuit also notes that Royal Day Spa has its front windows covered and that it’s open late, among other noted signs of an illicit massage business. A full list of indicators for an illicit massage business can be found here: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/2019/6-18-2020-ht-one-pager-draft.pdf?sfvrsn=5e6da430_2

The suit alleges two counts of public nuisance and is seeking an injunction to shut Royal Day Spa down immediately. The full petition can be found here: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/royal-day-spa—filed-petition-06-08-2021.pdf?sfvrsn=1f9f1600_2

As part of the Hope Initiative, Missouri Attorney General Schmitt previously filed civil suits against four illicit massage businesses in Cole, Laclede, Clay, and Jackson counties.

The Hope Initiative was launched by Schmitt in October of 2020, with an aim to crack down on illicit massage businesses operating in Missouri. Schmitt’s office contended that he has a goal to make Missouri the “most inhospitable state for human trafficking in the union,” and the Hope Initiative is another tool the Office is using to accomplish that goal.

Additionally, the structure and successes of the Hope Initiative have caught the eye of other state attorneys general and law enforcement, making the Hope Initiative a national model, Schmitt’s office said.

The Hope Initiative will continue to work to shut locations down, file civil suits wherever possible and work with local police and prosecutors to hold illicit massage businesses criminally accountable.

Video from the Hope Initiative’s launch in October 2020 can be found here: https://youtu.be/SJK6BUWj74g