Story County Attorney Jessica Reynolds said she was highly concerned about the possibility of human trafficking after the May sting.Ultimately, however, police found no evidence suggesting that's what took place. But we lacked evidence."George Belitsos, who chairs the nonprofit Iowa Network Against Human Trafficking, which includes a range of experts in human trafficking, said women often refuse to testify in suspected human trafficking cases.George Police, working with federal Homeland Security Investigations agents, had made arrests at the location, identified as Massage Therapy, as well as a handful of other local massage businesses, alleging the employees were operating without state licenses and providing illegal sexual services on the side.“Once I got there, I realized it was kind of a sketchy place. It was in a nicer part of town, so I wasn’t thinking that (would be a problem),” Robinson said Friday.“I’m mostly kind of frustrated, and a little bit embarrassed as well.Like nail shops or bodegas, the parlors can be a pathway to financial stability for new immigrants, many from China.Others discreetly offer sex for money, though those transactions can be hard to catch.
When their initial choices said they didn’t have availabilities, Robinson ended up at a Tabernacle Street parlor where many of the city’s older homes have been converted to office businesses.I feel like I should have been more in tune to this.”Robinson’s embarrassment wasn’t simply because she’d received a massage only a few days before the Tuesday sweep by law enforcement was announced.As a lawyer, she represents sexual assault victims, and as a Brigham Young University law student, she volunteered with a Washington, D.Xiao Zhang, the woman arrested for prostitution, was given a deferred judgment; Zemei Guo was fined for practicing without a license, she said."Can I rule human trafficking out completely? Arrests for prostitution or for working without a massage license have been made in the past three years in Ames, Johnston, Marion, Mason City, the Quad Cities, Sioux City, Urbandale and West Des Moines.Kellie Markey, founder of Dorothy’s House, a Des Moines rehabilitation house for women and girls recovering from human trafficking, said human trafficking of women who work at massage parlors is happening in every corner of the state. "If you live in the metro, it’s happening within three miles of your front door.”Markey said Iowa now has some of the best laws in the country to combat sex trafficking.