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A lawsuit from the Missouri Attorney General's Office has accused a Jefferson City business of providing illegal sexual services to customers under the guise that they are a legitimate massage therapy business.

The lawsuit, which was filed Monday in Cole County Circuit Court, is part of an effort by Attorney General Eric Schmitt's Office to crack down on illicit massage businesses across the state. Since the effort, dubbed the Hope Initiative, began in October, Schmitt said 37 illegal massage businesses have been shut down.

The lawsuit filed Monday in Cole County Circuit Court is asking for a preliminary injunction against Blue Lotus Asian Massage Therapy on Stadium Boulevard. Also named in the suit are William Porter of Kansas City, the owner of Blue Lotus in Kansas City, and Teubner Properties LLC located on Fox Moor Court in Jefferson City, which is the owner of the property where Blue Lotus operates in the Capital City.

The business had been operating in Jefferson City since 2018.

In the suit, the attorney general's office notes that illicit massage businesses, such as what they believe Blue Lotus is, often serve as a front for human trafficking, illegal sex work and forced labor.

The attorney general's office states in the suit,"For years, massage parlors located throughout the State of Missouri have been conducting public nuisances by, 'providing sexual contact for pay and/or unlawful prostitution activity,' on business premises. Blue Lotus Asian Massage Therapy is one such illicit massage parlor."

The lawsuit alleges Blue Lotus's services can be found on websites that advertise erotic massage parlors and offer sexual services for pay. In reviews reportedly found on some of these sites in April and May 2020, reviewers stated employees at Blue Lotus provided sexual services during a massage and alleged a person giving a massage took her top off during the massage.

"Upon information and belief the activities described in the above advertisements and reviews occurred at Blue Lotus Massage, they qualify as illegal prostitution activities under Missouri Law," the lawsuit reads.

In September 2020, the attorney general notified Teubner Properties by letter about the services being offered at Blue Lotus and requested they take action to abate the nuisance created by such prostitution activity. A second letter was sent in October 2020, but Teubner allegedly failed to take any action.

The attorney general's office alleges Porter, as owner of the business, is aware that prostitution activity is taking place there and that he profits from it. The lawsuit asks that the premises not be occupied for one year and the owner and landlord be ordered to provide "other relief as the court deems just and proper."

Cole County Judge Dan Green has been assigned to the case; no date has been set for the case to come before the judge.

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