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OC day spa faces prostitution allegations

October 27, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
An OC day spa facing prostitution allegations has been ordered to shut its doors by a judge for being a public nuisance. Now, officials are looking to use the ruling to crack down on medical marijuana dispensaries.City officials say the Lake Forest Body Centre has been a constant concern for years following several undercover investigations.

"They've encountered a number of illegal activities at the Body Centre ranging from solicitation of prostitution to other violations," said Lake Forest legal counsel Jeffrey Dunn.

The city sued hoping to close the day spa. Officials say a judge recently agreed the business is a public nuisance.

"The judge has indicated his final decision will be to close the Lake Forest Body Centre for violations of state and local law," said Dunn.

The spa is still in business. They still offer massages and chiropractic treatment.

Workers would not comment and referred Eyewitness News to their attorney, Roger Diamond.

He confirmed that there may have been one or two women involved in prostitution in the past, but argues the entire business should not have to close because of the actions of one or two people.

"In general the business itself is a legitimate chiropractic office with massage," said Diamond. "It's not a house of prostitution."

Diamond says this case is not over.

"The judge issued a ruling from the bench, but there's no official written order yet," said Diamond.

Local medical marijuana dispensaries is another issue for Lake Forest city officials.

They believe that if they can shutdown the Lake Forest Body Centre it will help in their fight to close the marijuana dispensaries.

The issue has caused hundreds to gather at public meetings to voice their opinion. Some aren't sure about the connection, saying there's no way to compare marijuana stores with massage parlors.

"That's totally ridiculous," said Lake Forest resident Wayne Washington. "If you have a massage parlor that's running prostitution and you have a place that's treating people for medical reasons it's totally different."

"We as a city take a strong position against illegal activity, whether it's illegal sexual activity in massage parlors or drug distribution in store front marijuana dispensaries," said Dunn. "None of it is allowed in City of Lake Forest."

For now the Lake Forest Body Centre remains open. The city says a formal written order needs to be prepared and submitted for approval. They expect a judge will sign it.

Diamond says he plans to appeal and keep the business open.


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