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Injunction Could Close Third Massage Parlor This Year Under 1917 Red Light Act

October 20, 1985|NANCY GRAHAM | Times Staff Writer

A request for a preliminary injunction to shut down the Marina Massage Parlor at 3017 W. Washington Blvd. will be considered Nov. 6 in Los Angeles Superior Court.

If the injunction is granted, the Marina will be the third Westside massage parlor closed down this year under provisions of the Red Light Abatement Act. Five other massage parlors on the Westside are facing civil trials and a sixth is operating under a temporary restraining order.

According to the city attorney's office, the 1917 Red Light Abatement Act is a civil action used to provide speedy relief from a perceived nuisance, such as a massage parlor suspected of being a front for prostitution. It is also used to close down businesses or buildings where there is strong evidence of such illegal acts such as gambling or the selling of narcotics.

Law enforcement officials use the act because "prostitution convictions are hard to get," said Detective Bill Margolis of the administrative vice division of the Los Angeles Police Department. "All you have to do (for abatement) is present our declaration to the judge and citizens' declarations (or complaints).

"We start with a temporary restraining order. They (the massage parlors) present their defense at the hearing for a temporary injunction. The judge has already read our case. The judge will issue a preliminary injunction until it goes to civil trial, usually in about five years."

The Marina Massage Parlor has been operating since Oct. 1 under a temporary restraining order, issued after police officers made eight arrests involving the business within 18 months. Another prostitution-related arrest was made Oct. 11.

The order prohibits solicitation or acts of prostitution at the parlor. It describes what women giving massages must wear: nurse-type uniforms and undergarments. They must keep their clothes on all of the time a customer is present. All mats formerly used for massages must be replaced with high tables and all registration books listing names of customers and technicians, dates, prices and tips must be available for inspection. Outer doors must be unlocked during business hours.

The two Westside parlors closed this year through Red Light Abatement proceedings are Oriental Massage Parlor, 7257 Melrose Ave., shut down in March by order of Superior Court Judge Norman Epstein, and the Asian Health Club, 5859 Melrose Ave., closed in July by order of Superior Court Judge Irving Shimer. Both were closed pending a civil trial after a hearing on charges of prostitution on the premises.

Ordered not to permit prostitution pending civil trial are the Wing Studio, 7560 Sunset Blvd.; Ogee Studio, 867 Gower St.; Massage of the Orient, 6017 Sunset Blvd.; Oriental Massage, 10835 Venice Blvd., and Atami Spa, 11724 Culver Blvd.

A temporary restraining order is in effect against the Exotic Health Spa, 530 N. La Brea Blvd.

Detective Rick McElroy, of administrative vice, said that officers file three reports after making an arrest in a massage parlor on prostitution charges.

One goes to the city attorney for filing, one to the Police Commission which issues the license to the parlor and has the power to revoke it after a hearing, and one into an "abatement package" that is sent to a judge.

Some cases never get to trail, McElroy said, because the licenses are revoked by the Police Commission.

Lt. John Ferguson of the Police Commission said the Red Light Abatement Act is the most effective tool the department has for closing down houses of prostitution.

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