Court upholds Downers Grove’s crackdown on massage parlor prostitution

DOWNERS GROVE – Following a three-year court battle, the Illinois Appellate Court has upheld the decisions of the Village of Downers Grove to revoke the business licenses of Ace Health Spa and King’s Health Spa as a result of prostitution activity at both locations.

On March 31, 2011, police officers from the village and the DuPage Metropolitan Enforcement Group went undercover in sting operations on King’s Health Spa, 930 Ogden Ave., Downers Grove, and Ace Health Spa, 1911 Ogden Ave., Downers Grove.

In each case, a police officer posed as a customer seeking a therapeutic massage. When employees of each facility offered to perform a sexual act, the employees were arrested and charged with prostitution, according to a press release from the village.

In 2011, the village revoked the business license of both Ace and King after administrative hearings and both businesses challenged the revocation in court.

In the Ace case, the Circuit Court Judge held that the sanction of revocation was too harsh and reversed the revocation. The judge in the King’s case upheld the revocation decision, according to the press release.

In a written opinion issued on June 11, 2014, the Illinois Appellate Court unanimously upheld the village’s revocation decision in both instances. The court endorsed the Village’s arguments that strict regulations are needed given the private nature of massage services. The court also agreed that the revocations for prostitution-related violations were appropriate in both cases, according to the release.

“The Village Council and I are extremely gratified that the appellate court has recognized the massage parlor problem and the need for strong enforcement of our ordinances," Downers Grove Mayor Martin Tully said in a statement. "Storefront prostitution operations which masquerade as normal massage parlors are illegal. They degrade the neighborhood and exploit their own employees. These businesses are inconsistent with the values of our village. They also diminish the reputation of legitimate professional therapeutic massage facilities.

“Illegal operators are now on notice that Downers Grove will not tolerate operations like Ace and King. We hope the appellate court’s decisive ruling will assist other municipalities in their enforcement efforts against similar illicit operations in their communities.”