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Riverside massage parlor shuttered by police vice squad will stay closed

A Riverside massage parlor will permanently lose its business license after vice officers said they saw prohibited conduct during two visits to the now-closed Healing Hands Spa, a city panel decided Wednesday, March 20.
Riverside’s Public Safety Committee agreed with the police department’s closure and denied the owner’s appeal to re-open the shuttered parlor in the 6700 block of Magnolia Avenue, in the Magnolia Center neighborhood.
Long Z. Liu, attorney for spa owner Hao Zhang, said video from the undercover officer’s visits did not show the inappropriate touching police say took place when they ordered the shutdown in early January.
Liu criticized the committee for not reviewing the videos as part of the hearing, and said afterward that he planned to appeal the denial in court.
Committee members said they were satisfied with the department’s description of the alleged violations. The 3-0 vote was the last word from the city.
Vice officers investigated the spa, where only one female employee was present during both visits Dec. 28, 2018, and Jan. 3, 2019, after police said they found an ad for Healing Hands on a website associated with prostitution or possible human trafficking.
“The ads show scantily dressed women,” along with prices and the address for the business, Lt. Mark Rossi, who manages the vice unit, told the committee Wednesday.
While that did not mean Healing Hands Spa was engaged in suspect behavior, the responsibility of the vice unit “is to conduct checks of the establishment to ensure that kind of activity is not occurring,” he said.
The masseuse received a citation for two violations of the city’s prohibited conduct law governing massage parlors, after officers came into the spa during the last visit on Jan. 3.
She was given her Miranda rights and denied to officers that she had inappropriately touched the undercover officer and insisted he was covered by a towel during the massages. Her court date is set for March 28.
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“The video completely refutes the allegations in the police report,” attorney Liu told the committee. The video “did not catch the hanky panky part of it. The video just caught the conversation … why did the video not catch the hanky panky part of it? Because there wasn’t any.”
Liu  called the hearing “unfair, unjust and unconstitutional.”
“This is not a criminal proceeding,” said City Councilman Jim Perry, who is chair of the panel. “We go on facts presented before us.”
In addition to Perry, the committee’s other members are City Councilmen Andy Melendrez and Steve Adams.

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