BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - UPDATE: As of Wednesday, January 3 following this story, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation has opened up an investigation into the operations at Rose Spa. The business license will remain active during the investigation.
ORIGINAL STORY: Over the last two years, seven employees of Rose Spa and Chi Massage parlors in Bryan/College Station have been arrested for prostitution and operating without a license. However, the businesses in question are still in operation.
On Friday, December 29, nearly two years after the first prostitution sting, Fan Zhang, 48, and Lina Ashford, 49 were taken into custody at Rose Spa on E. 29th St. and charged with prostitution. Police said Rose Spa and Chi Massage were advertising on both Craigslist and Backpage, soliciting customers. Undercover officers brought recording devices in the room with them and in several instances, the women were caught on camera agreeing to the illegal acts.
Four days after the arrests, the door to Rose Spa was locked and no one was inside, however the business license remains valid.
That license comes from the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). The entity just took over all activities related to massage therapy in the state of Texas in November 2017.
According to their rules regarding sexual misconduct, the alleged sexual acts performed by these employees would be enough to suspend or revoke the business license. However, as of Tuesday no action has been made and KBTX Legal Analyst Shane Phelps says that's not unusual.
"For something like a massage license, I don't think that department has very many resources," explained Phelps. "So any action that would be taken is more complaint driven than anything. People would have to call and complain. I would also presume that law enforcement agencies, when they make this kind of arrest, they report it to that agency that oversees the licensing."
Bryan Police agreed that reporting these arrests is a part of their protocol, but that's the furthest their participation would go.
Phelps added that the business can also be deemed a public nuisance by the city in what's called a "nuisance abatement" and eventually shut down. The only other way to stop the business from operating is if the property owner of the strip mall, Alexander Properties, takes action themselves.
"They may not want to though because someone is paying a monthly lease, so that's income to the landlord meaning they don't have much incentive to stop the business from operating," said Phelps.
KBTX put out a call to Alexander Properties to see if they have any plans to take action against the spa, but those calls have not been returned.
Chi Massage on Texas Avenue was open on Tuesday, however when searching the TDLR website, a valid license was not found for the business.
As for the two women who were charged with prostitution last Friday, Ashford has since bonded out of jail. Zhang remains in custody on an immigration hold.
If you have a complaint against a massage therapy business, you can submit them by emailing CS.MassageTherapy@tdlr.texas.gov or by calling (800) 803-9202.