EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 9, 2014

DA: It's premature to discuss 'other charges' in brothel case

By Jill Harmacinski
jharmacinski@eagletribune.com

---- — LAWRENCE — Nearly seven months after she was arrested and her alleged brothel shutdown, Lori Barron’s client list remains a public mystery and it’s unclear if any of her alleged customers — reported by police to be in the thousands — will face criminal charges.

Barron, 50, of Salem, N.H. was back in Salem (Mass.) Superior Court briefly yesterday, where she’s facing sexual trafficking, prostitution and other related charges for allegedly running an illegal brothel out of her Lawrence massage parlor “The Day Spa for Gentlemen” at 7B Broadway.

Barron, a married mother of two college age daughters, is accused of luring young women to work in the spa and perform sexual acts on paying customers.

After she was arrested and shutdown in June, police said Barron's client list may have up to 2,000 names. No specific names were released but customers were reported to be local firefighters, a police officer, politicians, teachers, lawyers and court workers, according to police reports.

The criminal indictments in Barron’s case remain sealed and off limits from public view in her court file. Also, in August, a superior court judge issued a protective order barring video seized in the case which depicts “nudity and sexual acts” from being publicly released or duplicated in any way. The video cannot leave the custody of the attorneys involved in the case.

In court yesterday, Barron’s defense attorney Francis O’Brien of Boston said they are waiting for prosecutors to turn over additional discovery information as possible evidence in the case. O’Brien also said as the case moves forward he anticipates filing motions to suppress on evidence. Judge John Lu set a hearing date of Feb. 20 on discovery motions.

When asked yesterday if there are plans to prosecute any of Barron’s alleged customers, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said the “matter remains under investigation so it premature to discuss any other charges.”

Potential evidence already filed in the case includes numerous police reports, photos and cell phone records, information from the spa’s web site, handwritten notes, a calendar, 21 advertisements for “girls” and grand jury minutes, according to court papers previously filed by Assistant District Attorney Kate MacDougall.

Barron was indicted on three counts of human trafficking, maintaining a house of prostitution, deriving support from prostitution, witness intimidation and videotaping unsuspecting nude persons.

A human trafficking conviction carries a minimum mandatory sentence of five years and a maximum sentence of 20 years in state prison. If a victim under age 8 is involved, a judge may impose a life sentence for human trafficking.

Barron remains free on $30,000 bail, which she posted after her June 11 arraignment in Lawrence District Court.

Police started investigating Barron in March after a woman working for her said Barron assaulted her and dragged her by her hair down a stairway because she refused to let a client spank her.

On June 10, Lawrence police raided the spa and arrested Barron at her Salem home. She was charged with running the sex spa and videotaping her workers performing sex acts on customers. She then used the footage to blackmail her employees, some single mothers, if they got out of line or tried to quit.

The website described Barron’s business as having “Just the amount of wrong to be right” with “warm, sophisticated and seductress young ladies that will make you feel you’ve never felt before.”

“Our professional staff of talented and highly skilled relaxologists have all mastered the opulent technique of erotic touch,” the website boasted.

Police said previously that Barron recruited women to work as receptionists, quickly promoting them to massage therapists and then blackmailing the women with videotapes she took secretly.

She’d initially set up business at 599 Canal St. in Lawrence, but later moved to 7B Broadway.

Barron was previously charged on May 16, 2011 for running a similar sex spa at 282 Main St. in Salem, N.H. She was charged with two counts of prostitution, obscene matter and simple assault. Less than a month later, she pleaded guilty to obscene matter and simple assault. The two prostitution charges were not prosecuted.

She was sentenced to a year in jail, suspended for 12 months with good behavior. She agreed to relinquish her massage therapist’s license and not open or manage a massage business in Salem, N.H. for ten years, according to court papers.

Less than two years later, Barron had moved her alleged brothel 7 miles away over the Massachusetts border in Lawrence.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter under the screenname EagleTribJill.