AUBURN — City councilors shut down a Washington Street massage parlor Monday night, saying masseuses there had engaged in illegal sexual contact with clients.

Councilors voted 6-0 to revoke the business license for Chinese Massage and Body Work Inc. of 459 Washington St. Police Chief Phil Crowell said the action was the culmination of a yearlong investigation by his officers.

“We had received information from the community that there was sexual contact taking place at this establishment,” Crowell said. “Through our investigation and surveillance, we were able to identify, and we spoke with, clients.”

Councilors met in two closed-door executive sessions Monday night with Crowell and Yizhe Wang, the owner of the massage parlor, along with an interpreter. Crowell said councilors also heard testimony from two of Wang’s clients.

“They provided testimony of the services they received,” Crowell said.

According to the city’s memo, councilors were asked to revoke the parlor’s business license for violating Chapter 14, Article 12, Section 14-386 of the city’s code of ordinances. That section of the code forbids therapists from administering a massage while the client’s genitals are exposed or the therapist is not fully clothed and wearing nontransparent clothing. It also forbids the therapist from administering or agreeing to administer a massage to a client’s genitals or anus and from performing any sexual act or making sexual contact as defined by Maine law.

Crowell said the city had strong evidence and testimony that Wang’s masseuses had massaged clients who had their genitals exposed, had massaged genitals and had made sexual contact with clients.

Crowell said he has been working with the district attorney and does not expect that any criminal charges will be filed.

“These are difficult cases,” Crowell said. “They are tough to prosecute. We worked (with the) district attorney’s office, and based on feedback from him, we thought this was best. We had a very strong case to take the license and so moved, in the best interest in public safety, to just close the establishment.”

Councilor Leroy Walker abstained from voting. Walker said Tuesday that he felt uncomfortable voting to revoke Wang’s license because it seemed she did not understand what was happening, despite working with a city-provided translator.

“She is not from our country and I don’t think she really understood everything that was happening and what she was faced with,” Walker said. “I just didn’t feel comfortable voting either way with it.”

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