1 Down, 1 To Go As County Closes Massage Parlors

August 09, 1991|By Elise Armacost and Peter Hermann | Elise Armacost and Peter Hermann,Staff writers

County officials are keeping up the pressure on the remaining massage parlor that they say offers masturbation for sale.

Councilman George Bachman discovered yesterday that the V.I.P. Spa in Linthicum, which was ordered shut down last week, was still open.

A second parlor, the Rose Oriental Spa at 7484-E Candlewood Road in Hanover, was raided and shut down Wednesday for violating county zoning laws.

Bachman inspected Rose yesterday morning and, to his satisfaction, found a "Sorry, we're closed" sign on the front door -- tacked on top of the county's order -- and a lone white towel lying in the deserted hallway.

Thinking that V.I.P. was also out of business, Bachman announced, "My primary objective has been reached."

But the councilman was mistaken.

Though zoning officials sent a certified letter to the parlor's owner, George Pappas of Cockeysville, ordering the closure, a notice of zoning violation was never posted atV.I.P., Bachman said.

"Damnit, somebody's screwing up," the councilman said. "I am hot under the collar. Here we thought we had these two places shut down."

During the raid at Rose, five vice squad officers and zoning officials, armed with a search warrant, closed the parlor, said Sgt. Thomas Suit.

No arrests were made, and nothing was seized. Police would not say if anyone's massage was interrupted when they went in.

Their search revealed eight small massage rooms,each containing a raised table or a mattress on the floor.

The county Department of Zoning Enforcement served an immediate cease-and-desist order on the spa, located in an industrial park off Dorsey Road. Police say the owner closed the business.

Suit said police accompanied county zoning officials because their department initiated theinvestigation.

No one answered the front or back door at the spa yesterday afternoon. The closed sign was hung over the posted county order, which Bachman said was another violation. The councilman said he would ask the county to have the owner move the sign so people could read why the establishment was shut down.

Police have been investigating Rose and V.I.P. for more than a year. In both parlors, female masseuses were observed manually stimulating male clients, but that sexual activity is not covered under county or state solicitation laws.

Bachman is working on a bill, based on similar legislation inMontgomery and Prince George's counties, that would ban such activity.

The councilman would not release a draft of the bill, numberingabout 20 pages, which he plans to introduce before the council Sept.3.

"This is a very intense bill," Bachman said. "We want to make it so all the bases are covered so this doesn't happen again in Anne Arundel County."

The bill is not designed to ban all massage parlors, only those engaging in sexual activity, Bachman said. "We're not doing any harm to the massage industry. They are very much in favor of the bill. (Parlors that offer sexual activity) are giving their industry a very black name."

Rose and V.I.P. are the last two massageparlors in the county, Bachman said. Both were licensed for use as health spas by the zoning department; neither is located in an area where parlors are allowed.

The establishments may reopen if they offer permitted health services, such as use of exercise machines, zoning officials said. But Suit said officials have evidence that the exercise equipment found in the spa was not being used.

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