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Colorado Springs City Council weighs actions against illicit spas

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The Colorado Springs City Council is discussing a possible plan of action against illicit massage parlors on Monday during a work session.

This comes after 13 Investigates has followed the story for two years -- dozens of massage parlors in the Springs have offered sex services for sale, but few people have been prosecuted.

The council heard from the Colorado Springs Vice Unit on the work they have done to try and shut down the illegal parlors. A PowerPoint presentation put together by CSPD for Monday's session indicates there are at least 35 illicit parlors police are aware of.

Commander Scott Whittington with the Metro Vice division acknowledged directly, "We believe human trafficking is occurring in these businesses, absolutely."

CSPD Chief Vince Niski has been investigating and "looking into prostitution and illegal massage parlors for quite some time now."

CSPD has busted several parlors for prostitution since 2014, but they haven't resulted in the businesses shutting down. Our special report, Hiding in Plain Sight, aired in 2019 and showed that dozens of parlors were offering sex acts -- since then, we've helped business owners take action against these parlors in their shopping centers.

"We've got to admit that when KRDO is more effective in shutting these places down than the police department," said Colorado Springs City Councilman Bill Murray. "We've got to start looking at the bigger picture of things."

Other councilmembers agreed and said it's worth looking into new regulations.

"One of the things I have asked our land use folks is to research and talk about where we are with our ability to enforce things like a land-use code, or other methods that don't have that 'beyond a reasonable doubt' standards, so we can continue to provide a safe neighborhood and get this out of the places where it should not be going on," said councilman Wayne Williams.

Police say a new ordinance would help. Commander Whittington said if they had an ordinance that would allow investigators to inspect records similar to liquor establishments, it could lead them to better records.

The City of Aurora has an ordinance aimed directly at illicit spas. It requires parlors to have proper licensing and requires regular audits to make sure people aren't living inside the business.

Councilmember Tom Strand agrees that more action should be taken, but he's afraid the Aurora ordinance won't hold up in court.

"They are a little worried it is unconstitutional. I have to study that and take a look at that," Strand said. "We don't want to craft an ordinance that goes too far and is going to get overturned."

Three newly elected council members who take office later this month have told 13 Investigates they support tougher regulations to shut down illicit spas.

Colorado Springs / Investigations / Local News / News

KRDO News

Comments

9 Comments

  1. “13 Investigates will be at the 10 a.m. council work session on Monday.”

  2. Why? We have camping and loitering laws in place that aren’t enforced. The end result is an unsightly patch along Monument and Fountain Creeks where trees have been cut down for firewood and what appears to be a trash dump in a 3rd world country. Driving through the Springs this Summer as folks revisit road trips will leave a great impression of Colorado Springs….

    1. The city defoliated most of our waterways to get rid of the camps.

      Trees 150, yeah.

  3. How was Chief Niski in VNI in the 90’s when they stated the division started in 2014. Someone isn’t stating the facts. Also if prostitution was in your face on Nevada in the 90’s and they moved off the streets, at the same time these massage spas opened up is it safe to say that CSPD has not kept up with the move to online?
    And yet there is no mention of having uniformed officer presence doing continuous and constant Bar checks in these sites to directly effect their illegal cash flow.

  4. if victims do not cooperate then they are complicit and therefore prostitutes.

  5. The oldest profession is not going anywhere. How much time, effort and money will be spent on this issue when so many more worse problems face ColoFornia Springs?
    Legalize it, regulate it, tax it and accept that it is not going away, just like with MJ turn lemons into lemonade, use the tax to offset utility costs or housing.

  6. Making changes. The assistant DA will only visit for a happy ending after dark so he is less likely to be seen.

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