COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- El Paso County prosecutors were planning on calling a former illicit massage parlor employee to the stand Tuesday in a case against the spa's owner. However, right before she was called to the stand, she pleaded the fifth.
This is the first felony trial against an alleged illicit spa owner in Colorado Springs since 13 Investigates' "Hiding in Plain Sight" investigation began in 2019.
There are dozens of illicit massage parlors in Colorado Springs engaging in human trafficking, according to Colorado Springs Police.
The owner of Rose Spa in Colorado Springs, 56-year-old Xinan Xia, is on trial for felony pimping, operating a house of prostitution, and pandering for prostitution.
The state indicated they have not offered her immunity from potential charges for her involvement with the alleged illicit spa. The witness was flown in from Los Angeles on Monday and is originally from China.
Through an interpreter, the former Rose Spa employee told the judge she is using the 5th amendment, and will not be eligible to testify in the case.
Throughout day 2 of the trial, prosecutors were in discussions with the Fourth Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen regarding the witnesses immunity in the case
During opening statements on Monday, the defense said Xia is not a pimp, but a struggling businessman in over his head. Xia's attorney told the jury that there is no evidence connecting Xia to prostitution in his business, Rose Spa. He also said there is no evidence that Xia profited from any sexual acts conducted within the massage parlor.
On the other hand, prosecutors said not only was the defendant aware of the sexual acts within Rose Spa, but he paid money to advertise the illicit acts on websites online. The state told the jury that female employees at Rose Spa gave hand gestures to undercover Colorado Springs detectives to indicate how much sexual acts were worth.
On Tuesday, prosecutors called Detective James Thurman with Colorado Springs Police to the stand. Det. Thurman was the undercover detective with the Metro Vice Unit who went into the Rose Spa on July 2, 2020.
After receiving a 25-minute massage, Thurman said he indicated motions with his hands towards the female employee, and asked how much for “extras”.
The detective told the jury the female employee held out five fingers. Thurman asked the female Rose Spa employee if the act would cost $5, but she indicated "no" with a head shake.
She held out five fingers again, and Det. Thurman asked if the act would cost $50. That’s when the female Rose Spa employee nodded in the affirmative.
Det. Thurman said he used the hand motion a second time asking if it would cost $50, and he said the employee again nodded in the affirmative.
That’s when Det. Thurman says he used the "bust word" as detectives outside the business were listening in. Det. Thurman said there was a recording device in his pants pocket less than four feet away from him. Following Det. Thurman's call, the officers outside conducted the bust on the business. That same day, the Vice Unit also searched the Rose Spa and interviewed workers.
During cross-examination, the defense pointed out that the female massage parlor employee never audibly responded in the affirmative, and the five fingers could’ve meant “stop”. Through his questions, Xia’s attorney showed that the Detective never audibly asked for sexual acts.
However, Det. Thurman said he was certain that the female Rose Spa employee and himself were “talking the same language”.
Detective Emily Mcbride, who was with the Colorado Springs Police Vice Unit at the time, called Rose Spa twice trying to set up an appointment, on July 1 and 2, 2020. Mcbride said a female Rose Spa employee told her they were all booked up. When she called a second time, the detective says the female Rose Spa employee hung up.
When Det. Thurman called on July 2, 2020, however, he says the female Rose Spa employee told him to come in any time.
According to their testimony on Tuesday, detectives said they found eight different areas inside Rose Spa with semen on walls, sheets, and towels. Some of the towels and sheets were even shown to the jury in the courtroom. Prosecutors called serologist, someone who works with bodily fluids, to the stand as well. Using swabs from the scene, the serologist testified that the substance found throughout the business was semen.