By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — Police said a woman was operating a sex-for-sale business in a massage parlor in the downtown arts district.
Investigators said that after receiving several complaints about men coming and going from the parlor, which operated in a suite at 57 Wingate St., they set up surveillance.
One of the male customers whom investigators spoke to told them he paid $60 for a one-hour massage, which included manual sex performed on him by a masseuse, according to a police report. The man told police he was from Stratham, N.H., and that he noticed an advertisement for Angel Body Works on an online site that caters to adult entertainment, according to the report.
Police repeatedly referred to the parlor as Angel Body Works in their report, but a sign on the businesses reads “Angel Qigung & Bodywork.’’
On another occasion, police said they observed a man who appeared lost and then checked his smartphone before entering the parlor. Police later questioned the man and he told them he also paid $60 for a one-hour massage which included manual sex by a masseuse. Police said the man lives in Ayer.
During a later search of the business, police noticed a sign on a wall that read: “This is a professional body work place. Please do not ask us to do anything ILLEGAL.”
Police said Liu Yanping, 51, ran Angel Body Works. They said she advertised oriental massages and displayed her rates in the windows of the business.
Police charged Yanping with five counts of sexual conduct for a fee, one count of keeping a house of prostitution and one count of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14. Ping was arraigned on the charges yesterday in Haverhill District Court, where she was released on personal recognizance. She must return to court Sept. 24.
Police Deputy Chief Donald Thompson said several people left messages with the department’s tip line complaining that men were coming and going from the business on a regular basis.
Wingate Street has several arts businesses, two restaurants and a popular bar. The street is in the heart of the resurgent downtown and a block away from the popular restaurant district.
According to a police report on file in Haverhill District Court, Angel Body Works operated in a first-floor storefront. Police said the windows of the business were covered to prevent anyone from looking into the office space and that the rates were advertised on the windows in pink letters. The appearance of the business was unlike any other massage parlor in the city, the report said.
Police said an online advertisement for the business showed it offered massages at one hour for $60, a half hour for $40 and “four hands” massage for $120.
During surveillance, officers watched men entering the building and staying between 30 and 60 minutes, which police said is consistent with a visit to a massage parlor.
A business owner in the same building told police that prior to Angel Body Works there was a massage parlor which had mostly female clients who were friendly, in contrast to the men who visited Angel Body Works and avoided eye contact as they entered and left the parlor.
Undercover officers visited the business twice, posing as customers. On the first visit last month, an Asian female who said her name was Cindy gave the officer a massage and then tried to perform manual sex on him, indicating it was the only type of sex she would offer.
On Wednesday, police noticed that the signs in the windows of the business had been removed. An undercover officer entered the business, which appeared to still be operating, and asked for a massage, according to the police report. Yanping gave the officer a half-hour massage for $40 and then asked him if he wanted anything else, the report said. It said Yanping did not speak or understand English very well and that after the officer asked her what kinds of sex she offered, she indicated only manual sex, according to the report.
The officer left and notified the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents, which is involved in the regulation of massage parlors. That agency informed the officer that it would open an investigation and would be present when police executed a search warrant. According to the police report, that agency ordered and posted a “Stop Work Order” at the business.
Detectives then entered the business with the search warrant and met Yanping. The report said a translator was contacted by phone and explained to Yanping that she was going to be arrested. The report said she indicated that she understood.
During a search of the business, police found four rooms, two of which were set up as massage areas and contained massage tables and lotions, including baby oil and hand cream, which police said were not lotions typically used at a professional massage parlor. A third room was set up and used as Ping’s sleeping area and contained laundry and a suitcase. Towels were laundered in a bucket with a bleach solution and hanging on a clothes rack, the report stated. A fourth room was used as a living quarters, police said, and contained two chairs, a fully-stocked refrigerator and a microwave oven. Next to the room was a bathroom with a full shower, toilet and sink, the report stated.
Police said they confiscated several items from the business, including a state of New York cosmetology license in the name of Lin Yan Ping, an Angel Body Works Inc. stamp with a New York City address, a U.S. employment card and credit cards in the name of Yanping Liu, and $2,301 in cash.