Yesterday, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a civil lawsuit against an illicit massage business, Royal Day Spa, located in St. Louis County. This lawsuit is the fifth filed by Attorney General 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 Attorney General Schmitt. “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.”
Following several traffic stops made by the Crestwood Police Department, three male individuals made reports to law enforcement officers about their experiences at Royal Day Spa, which entailed paying money and tips for sexual favors. The individuals stated 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 like RubMaps.ch and USASexGuide.nl where users post their “experiences” at massage businesses, often including graphic descriptions of sexual favors or activity that took place at that massage business. USASexGuide.nl describes itself as the “internet’s largest sex travel website,” and RubMaps.ch describes itself as a place “where fantasy meets reality.”
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 Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt in October of 2020, with an aim to crack down on illicit massage businesses operating in Missouri. Attorney General Schmitt has repeatedly stated that the goal of his office is 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.
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