St. Charles massage business fights closure after prostitution sting

St. Charles officials heard testimony Monday night that may result in shuttering a fifth massage business where a police sting netted a prostitution arrest.

Illinois State Police conducted an undercover operation at the Shangri-La Spa & Sauna in January. An arrest triggered a hearing with the city's alcohol, tobacco and massage commission. That hearing resulted in Mayor Ray Rogina's decision to revoke the establishment's business license. The owners appealed that decision in court. A judge sent the case back to the city commission to allow the owners time to present testimony and evidence in their favor.

That time came Monday night.

The undercover officer testified he entered the business, at 2015 Dean St., on the evening of Jan. 11. An initial agreement for a 30-minute massage for $45 transformed once the officer disrobed, he said.

The officer testified the woman had him turn over, exposing his genitals, after the massage began. City code requires customers of a massage business to cover their genitals at all times. The officer said the woman then massaged his hips while asking him what other services he might want.

The officer said the woman agreed to have sex with him in exchange for $100. She then touched his genitals while placing a condom on him, the officer said. That would be another violation of city code.

The officer testified he then told the woman he couldn't go through with the act because he felt guilty cheating on his wife. The two then agreed for the woman to perform a solo sex act.

Upon leaving, the officer signaled to St. Charles police to arrest the female employee.

A St. Charles police officer testified she saw no other employees inside the business at the time of the arrest. She also saw only one employee inside the establishment when she returned six days later with documentation of the cash police seized from the register.

Not having a licensed massage therapist on site acting as a manager at all times the business is open would also be a violation of city laws.

"There is no supervision at this facility; It's a free-for-all," said Tim O'Neil, an attorney representing the city's police department in the proceedings.

But attorney Richard Miller, who represented the owner of the business, said there is no proof the owner violated any laws.

He said the owner was present for both police visits. At the time of the alleged solicitation, Miller explained his client was in an adjacent building watching her son play table tennis. When officers visited a second time, the owner was working with a massage client and instructed employees to tell anyone who asked she wasn't available. He pointed to the St. Charles police officer's testimony that said it was possible the owner was present but not visible at the time of the two incidents.

"This is a rogue employee who allegedly perpetrated an act of solicitation," Miller said. "My client didn't knowingly allow it. She didn't personally violate any ordinances."

Miller said a business owner is not responsible when an employee commits an intentional criminal act. He said all the business' employees enter an agreement with the owners acknowledging they can be fired for any prostitution allegations. Miller, however, did not provide any actual document signed by the employee. Miller said the owner terminated the employee the day after the alleged crime.

Rogina now has 14 days to decide if he will revoke the business' license a second time. He can void the license even if he believes only one of the seven allegations of city code violations is more likely to have occurred than not. If Rogina reaches that decision, the owners will have one more chance to offer evidence that would justify some lesser punishment, such as a fine.

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