Alleged prostitution in two Valley spas

Alleged prostitution in two Valley spas

Some Valley residents say prostitution is happening in their community and they want to put a stop to it.

Several church members took their concerns to the law.

Right now those concerns aren't necessarily founded but there is a lot of suspicion surrounding the legitimacy of two businesses.

One already has a history of prostitution.

Deacons at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Lacey's Spring took concerns about alleged prostitution to Morgan County Sheriff Greg Bartlett.

Bartlett says, "They were concerned about the Illusion Spa opening back up, if they were going to open back up, and another business called Top Notch."

At one time Illusion Spa was the center of an undercover investigation.

A lot of money went into that investigation and the outcome was a disappointment for law enforcement.

Bartlett says, "We were a little disappointed in the sentencing, you know.  We arrested them.  We spent probably $10,000 out of our budget in man hours with us and the Decatur Police Department and they got about 15 days in jail each and a $1,000 fine."

It's frustrating for officers that a lot of time and money goes into these investigations when sometimes the punishment is very minimal.

Bartlett says, "Our officers probably spent 70 hours, you know, because you have to do surveillance equipment and wires and that kind of thing and backup and you have to have officers available even when you send somebody into the spa you never know what's going to take place."

A suspicious fire destroyed the building last month, but calls into our newsroom claimed they were back open for business and illegal activity was happening.

One of our photographers Wednesday, called the number we had for Illusion Spa.

He was told by a female employee that, yes, they were open.

She gave him a specific room number at the La Quinta Inn on University Drive and said they'd even be operating in a new building very soon.

But when one of our female reporters placed a call and identified herself, the manager, named Jennifer, said they are simply a business that rents hot tubs and gives light rubdowns but no, they are not operating and don't know if they will be again.

She said no illegal activity was going on.

She declined to go on camera to address the allegations.

Bartlett says, "Most of them now are, the way we understand it, are working at appointment-only type thing, like an escort service."

The sheriff says no official complaints have been filed against Top Notch on U.S. Highway 231 but finally, after many attempts, the owners of the building have gotten them evicted.

Still, a sign says it's open, but no one answered the door.

Nolan Farmer, a Lacey's Spring resident, says, "I just don't think it's good for the neighborhood.  I don't approve of it."

Bartlett assures us his agency is involved and will not stand for prostitution in his jurisdiction.

Right now that crime is just a misdemeanor in the state.

Still it's illegal and many will say immoral.

If you feel the penalties need to be harsher contact your local legislator.