Proposed bill aims at shutting down massage parlors busted for prostitution

Grand Strand

CONWAY, SC (WBTW)- One South Carolina lawmaker is working to shut down massage parlors that are busted for prostitution.

Back in January, authorities arrested seven women for prostitution at six different massage parlors across Horry County.

Last week, police arrested two women after an undercover sting at Oasis Spa and Lily spa. This is the second bust for those establishments.

Representative Mandy Powers Norrell proposed legislation that could close those places for good.

“It will give labor, licensing, and regulation the authority to close them down and prosecute any human trafficking violations found there,” said Rep. Norrell.

She said the women arrested are often victims themselves.

“It gets very frustrating when you see a prostitution bust and all of the mug shots are prostitutes, when you know very well in many cases they are trafficked,” said Rep. Norrell.

The Horry County Sheriff’s Office is a part of the South Carolina Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force. 

Just this week, they held three days of training to educate law enforcement on what human trafficking could look like.

“When someone is on the street selling themselves, possibly there’s a reason for that. Maybe they didn’t ask to be in that lifestyle, and look at it from a different angle,” said Lt. Sherri Smith, with the Horry County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office said it has to enforce the law but also wants to help these people in the process.

“If we have to put them in jail for breaking the law let’s give them information of who to contact so they can get out it,” said Lt. Smith.

Rep. Norrell also proposed a bill that would allow someone charged with prostitution the ability to use human trafficking evidence as their defense. 

To read the proposed legislation click here.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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