Rumors and suspicion of massage parlors offering sexual services and possibly engaging in human trafficking were the common worries expressed by community members.
Johns Creek resident Glenda Brown said a surprising conversation she had with a local high school student a while back has stuck with her.
“He mentioned how some guys from his athletic team even go to massage parlors,” she said. “He implied that they were going for sexual activities, not just for massages.”
She urged city officials to do everything they can to make sure teens and children were not exposed to businesses engaging in such activity.
Ash Thourani, a board member of the St. Ives Homeowners Association, had a similar message for the mayor and city council.
“Please take this issue seriously,” he said. “It affects our home values. It affects our community. It affects our kids.”
City Manager John Kachmar shared in residents’ concerns. After the council meeting, Kachmar led an informal conversation with residents along with City Attorney Bill Riley and Police Chief Ed Densmore.
Kachmar told the crowd the massage parlors allegedly offering illegal services appear to be part of organized operations and are a problem in the city, though the police department has been making progress through arrests, and some businesses have been denied licenses.
“There is an invasion of these establishments in the greater Atlanta area,” he said. “There are 12 in this city.”
He reminded citizens of the constitutional rights of which they can take advantage.
“You have the right of freedom of speech,” he said. “We, the city, issue permits for demonstrations in rights-of-way.”
Densmore said public demonstrations may not intimidate the business owners themselves but may deter their clientele from patronizing those places.
In the meantime, he said the police department will continue to crack down on violations at massage parlors with intentions to catch the individuals organizing the operations.