State Rep. Auden Grogins, the blonde banshee from Black Rock, is on a mission to regulate massage parlors and adult entertainment establishments that she says curtails quality of life and lowers property values of her constituency. She’s part of a coalition pushing to strengthen regulation both on a state and local level. Monday night the State Senate, with an assist from Senator Anthony Musto and the rest of the city’s legislative delegation, unanimously approved legislation to “crack down on massage parlors in Bridgeport and elsewhere that have served as a front for illicit activity, including prostitution and human trafficking.”
State legislators say the bill will fight human trafficking, increase regulation to ensure practice of legitimate massage therapy. The bill is now before Governor Dannel Malloy who is expected to sign it into law soon.
Grogins and Musto both represent Black Rock where residents urge tighter regulation on Fairfield Avenue massage parlors and strip clubs. In fact the legislation has been a priority for all eight members of the city’s legislative delegation seeking reelection this year.
“These illicit ‘massage parlors’ are nothing more than a front for prostitution and human trafficking,” says Musto. “This bill will give law enforcement the tools they need to shut these places down. These parlors are a blemish on Bridgeport’s reputation and cast doubt on those who practice legitimate massage therapy. The residents of Black Rock have been vocal in drawing attention to this problem, and this legislation is the result of their hard work.”
Grogins, vice chair of the Planning and Development Committee where the bill originated, says, “For far too long, these businesses have been getting away with providing sexually oriented services under the guise of legitimate store fronts. I am pleased my colleagues in the legislature agreed this is a bill that should be supported. This sends a clear and strong message this illegal activity will no longer be tolerated.”
According to Musto the state currently requires massage therapists to be licensed in order to practice their trade, but only regulates individual practitioners, not those employing them. New regulations will allow police departments to go after both unlicensed “therapists” and their employers. It criminalizes the employment of unlicensed individuals to practice massage therapy.
The bill also prohibits using the word “massage” in an advertisement for services not performed by a licensed massage therapist. The same restriction also applies to the terms “shiatsu,” “acupressure,” “Thai massage,” “Thai yoga massage” and “Thai yoga.”
Connecticut law describes “massage therapy” as the “systematic and scientific manipulation and treatment of the body’s soft tissues using pressure, friction, stroking, percussion, kneading, vibration by manual or mechanical means, range of motion, and nonspecific stretching.”
The legislation also empowers the state Department of Public Health to investigate complaints of unlicensed massage practice.