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Monday, June 17, 2013

Williston Massage Parlor Accused of Prostitution Officially Closed

Posted By on Mon, Jun 17, 2013 at 5:26 PM

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A Williston massage parlor that provided sexual services for money has closed.

As of Monday afternoon, Harmony Health Spa had two pink flyers taped to the front door that read, "Health spa permanently closed." A sign outside displaying the spa's name and hours of operation had been removed, as had the neon "open" sign that previously hung in the front window.

Harmony Health Spa was one of three businesses outed for prostitution and potential human trafficking in the June 5 Seven Days cover story, "Unhappy Endings: Getting a Grip on Vermont's Asian Sex Market." The other two — River Spa in Burlington and Seiwa Spa in Essex Junction — closed following publication of the story.

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The closure of Harmony Health Spa comes days after the building's owner, Tom Booska, was charged with knowingly allowing prostitution to occur on the premises.

Last Tuesday, in response to the Seven Days exposé, Williston Police Chief Todd Shepard hand-delivered a letter to Booska from Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan warning Booska that he could be held criminally liable if authorities found evidence of prostitution on his property.

The next day, Williston police visited the massage parlor and confronted two customers leaving the premises. Both admitted that they had received sexual services there in exchange for money. Booska is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday morning.

Donovan said Friday that the two customers who confessed to paying for sex will be asked to testify against Booska and not be charged as "johns." Likewise, Donovan reiterated his longstanding policy that women providing sex for money will not be charged as prostitutes if there is evidence they are the victims of human trafficking.

More on this story to come...

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About The Author

Ken Picard

Ken Picard

Ken Picard has been a Seven Days staff writer since 2002. He has won numerous awards for his work, including the Vermont Press Association's 2005 Mavis Doyle award, a general excellence prize for reporters.


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