CRYSTAL LAKE – A longtime Crystal Lake business owner doesn’t want a recent rash of prostitution arrests at massage parlors to take away from the legitimate work provided by others in her profession.
Four Crystal Lake massage parlors have been linked to prostitution in less than two months, shedding a negative light on a profession aimed at helping ailing people. That includes six people arrested for prostitution or violating the Massage Licensing Act.
“[These arrests] give the wrong impression to people who aren’t educated about massage therapy,” said Betty Dietrich, a state licensed massage therapist and owner of Crystal Lake Massage Therapy. “It’s unfortunate because the majority of businesses are very legal, and we do a lot of great work for people of all ages.”
Four women were charged Dec. 11 with either prostitution or violating the act, and none of the employees involved had valid massage licenses, according to the Crystal Lake Police Department. The alleged illegal activities took place at Marigolds Massage, Blue Sky Spa and Aleda Massage.
During the undercover operations, police said the employees charged attempted a sexual act on police officers posing as customers during a massage.
Those arrests came less than a month after the owner of Spring Spa in an unincorporated area of McHenry County near Crystal Lake was arrested for prostitution a second time.
After her first arrest in late October, members of the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office received additional complaints from residents about suspicious activity at the business.
Police said the owner agreed to perform sexual acts for money in both instances. A second woman also was charged with unlawful practice of massage therapy after the second incident.
Oftentimes in the case of the illegal activity, it depends on the type of customer and the employee, Crystal Lake police Cmdr. Dan Dziewior said.
“If you ask for a little something extra, you are most likely going to be shown the door,” he said. “There are honest people out there giving therapeutic massages. Not all employees take part in this.”
Having spent the last 13 years in Crystal Lake, Dietrich can count on her hand the number of times a customer has come in for a massage asking for “something extra.”
“If you’re state certified, as is required, you are trained to deal with this type of thing.” Dietrich said. “The first thing I do is stop the massage and clarify what they are asking. If it’s that, the session has ended right then and there. They are expected to pay for the session and leave.”
As is the case at Crystal Lake Massage Therapy, all employees are state certified, with many working with physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons to help clients either recovering from surgery or other physical ailments.
That includes clients who have suffered a stroke or a heart attack, those who have had knee or hip replacements, or pregnant women, Dietrich said.
“It’s very good work bringing people back to their optimal wellness,” she said. “People shouldn’t let these arrests scare them from looking for professional massage because there are very good, reputable professional therapists in the area that can help.”
Some tips for people to look out for while searching for a massage therapist include making sure the person who answers the phone is knowledgeable and can answer all questions related to the treatment.
Clients should also be wary of any business that stays open beyond normal work hours late at night, Dietrich said. Once inside the establishment, making sure the facility is neat and clean and employees are dressed professionally is also recommended.
Residents thinking about a therapeutic massage can also go to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation website at www.idfpr.com to find out who is state certified.