NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

June 27, 2013

No shortage of victims in this 'victimless crime'

It’s our region’s own version of “The Client List.”

And it is fueling conversation and speculation at coffee shops, on street corners, across backyard fences.

But this is no made-for-TV drama.

Accused madam Lori Barron of Salem, N.H., faces seven felony charges, ranging from maintaining a house of prostitution and wiretapping to human trafficking.

Much has been made of her list of clients, which Lawrence police Chief John Romero has said numbers between 1,000 and 2,000 names.

Those names may include public officials, schoolteachers, police officers, lawyers and more. Among them is reportedly an Amesbury school teacher.

It’s not the first time Barron has stood accused of prostitution-related charges. Just two years ago, she was convicted of obscene matter and simple assault across the border in Salem, where she ran a similar operation. Her sentence was suspended for good behavior and she paid a $310 fine.

It didn’t take long for Barron to set up shop in Lawrence, where she was running The Day Spa for Gentlemen on Broadway at the time of her arrest. There, police attest, she offered sexual services behind a thin veil of massage therapy.

She appears to be an astute businesswoman. Certainly, she had no trouble posting $30,000 cash bail after her arraignment. She allegedly promised employees they could earn up to $3,000 a week working at the spa.

But the crimes Barron stands accused of are far more serious than what might be suggested by the sniggers and salacious remarks the story has generated.

What information has been released suggests Barron preyed not only on her clients, but also the women in her employ. Those women were paid in cash and allegedly threatened with blackmail if they tried to leave their jobs.

These weren’t trained masseuses, they were women, many of them young mothers, desperate to support themselves and their families. Barron allegedly threatened to report them as unfit mothers if they stepped out of line or tried to quit.

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