Two Hilliard massage parlors shut down for suspicion of human trafficking and prostitution

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Hilliard officials and Franklin County deputies shut down two massage parlors on suspicion of human trafficking and selling sexual services (WSYX/WTTE)

Two massage parlors were shut down by the City of Hilliard and the Franklin County Sheriff's Office because they were believed to have been involved in human trafficking and selling sexual services.

Happy Body Massage on Cemetery Road and Angel's Touch Asian Spa on Leap Court were both shut down by authorities Thursday afternoon. The massage parlors are about a half mile away from each other.

“The City of Hilliard cannot and will not tolerate any business that benefits from the victimization of women or other people through human trafficking,” Hilliard Mayor Don Schonhardt said. “Beyond the illegality of the business, we have a moral imperative to protect the victims of these despicable enterprises and combat the epidemic of modern slavery in our country.”

Hilliard city officials filed a nuisance abatement civil lawsuit against the businesses, and a judge granted the request to immediately shut them down. Deputies then went to each of the parlors to clear the buildings and make sure any women working there were given appropriate help and any services needed. City officials say Asian American Community Services and the Salvation Army were also on hand to help authorities with human trafficking victims.

The closure of the two businesses comes just a week after a massage parlor near Hilliard was shut down by the city of Columbus on suspicion of prostitution and trafficking.

Mayor Schonhardt said multiple city departments worked together to make closing the businesses a top priority, and applauded the cooperation. He also said city officials would continue to work to make sure trafficking doesn't exist in Hilliard.

"Human and sex trafficking are tragedies, and do not reflect Hilliard or human values. While our first priority is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the victims of these enterprises, we also must ensure this kind of business is eliminated from our community."