A church in the city of Wheaton, Illinois recently filed a lawsuit against its landlord after a second employee was arrested for offering prostitution services at a Chinese massage parlor in the same building.
After parishioners claimed to have heard “sexual noises coming from the massage parlor before and after services on the weekend,” Maranatha Christian Church sued the massage parlor, asking the judge to end their lease and refund the rent they paid since 2010, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The massage establishment has no real name, except a neon sign on its window that says “spa”. “Therapeutical Massage” is also printed on the company’s business cards. Their services were listed on an adult-orientated advertisement that promotes “beautiful and tender” masseuses, table showers and body scrubs.
Police went undercover to investigate the massage parlor, which has operated under several different names over the years.
One of the employees, Xuhong Castro, was caught in the act last October after agreeing to fondle an undercover officer for an extra US$60 during a massage. The 36-year-old employee had recently moved from China and was arrested for misdemeanor prostitution.
She told reporters, however, that the incident was a misunderstanding due to a language barrier.
“It’s not fair. It’s not true,” she said. “I didn’t do prostitution.”
Castro was the second employee arrested for prostitution, after 31-year-old Tingting Wang from China was arrested back in 2012 when the massage parlor was called “Oriental Spa”.
Another woman, who refused to be identified publicly, claims to be the owner of the parlor and denied the allegations of prostitution. She said she pays US$3,450 rent a month but business is dead because her establishment is known to be a “troubled place”.
The church decided to finally move out in January after the second employee was arrested. Parishioners were forced to worship in each other’s homes until they found an alternative space.
The property manager, Tatiana Savenok, questions how church-goers can hear “sexual nosies” if the walls are soundproofed. And if so, why did the church leaders agree to sign a second lease?
Savenok, however, admits that she wouldn’t know if they really were running a prostitution ring.
“I am not responsible for any wrongdoing for tenants,” she said, “If the city finds something wrong they should shut it down.”
The city has revoked the spa’s massage license and the lawsuit is not due until late summer.
[Image via Aboluowang]
By Sharon Choi