, Newburyport, MA

Local News

April 5, 2014

Probe widens into Port 'erotic massage parlor'

Complaints of illegal acts surfaced a year ago

NEWBURYPORT — A Chinese woman with a New York address is out on $250 bail after her arraignment yesterday on sexual solicitation charges, but police investigative reports indicate there could be more to this than meets the eye.

Huitong Huo, 47, of 1234 70th St., Apt. 2, Brooklyn, NY, was arraigned at Newburyport District Court before Judge Peter Doyle on the charge of sexual conduct for a fee for alleged activities at a massage parlor at 150 Merrimac St. However, police say there is reason to believe that she may be a pawn in a human sexual trafficking business, which bring women to the United States for exploitation in the sex trade. Police also found evidence that there was a rotation of women being brought into the building, with customers being booked by an offsite manager named “Juanna.”

Huo was released yesterday and ordered to return May 2 for a pretrial hearing. A Chinese native who speaks the Mandarin dialect and little English, Huo had a friend with her attempting to act as an interpreter. But Doyle ordered a Mandarin Chinese court interpreter be present on May 2 due to the difficulty both women had understanding court procedures.

Doyle warned Huo her failure to attend future hearings could result in bail revocation and her ending up in jail awaiting the court process.

According to the Newburyport police Inspector Michael Sugrue, investigation into alleged illegal activities at 150 Merrimac St. began a year ago, when police received numerous complaints of possible illegal goings-on at the massage parlor. Sugrue wrote his department received anonymous letters complaining of “unlawful sexual misconduct,” most citing Craigslist as their source, as well as another adult website that provided reviews of “erotic massage parlors,” listed by city and state.

Sugrue searched that website for Newburyport establishments and was given the listing of Merrimac Bodyworks, located in one of the eight units in the professional office building known as Merrimac Landing at 150 Merrimac St. The listing included a picture of the blue wooden building, located near the intersection of Olive Street.

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