By Jill Harmacinski
---- — SALEM, Mass. — While her client list still remains a mystery to the public, accused madam Lori Barron was formally arraigned on human trafficking, prostitution and related charges in Salem Superior Court yesterday.
Barron, 50, of 20 Riversedge Drive, Salem, N.H. is accused of running an illegal brothel out of her Lawrence massage parlor “The Day Spa for Gentlemen” at 7B Broadway and luring young women to work there and perform sexual acts on paying customers.
Judge Timothy Feeley yesterday also agreed to a protective order on a videotape seized in the case. The order which both O’Brien and Prosecutor Kate MacDougall agreed to, stipulates the video “depicting nudity and sexual acts” cannot be publicly released or duplicated in any way and will not leave the custody of the attorneys involved in the case.
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 filed by MacDougall.
Barron was indicted on the human trafficking, prostitution and related charges in late June and her arraignment at the superior court level means the possible penalties she faces if convicted will be more severe.
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 18 is involved, a judge may impose a life sentence for human trafficking.
Flanked by her new defense attorney Francis O’Brien of Boston during the arraignment, Barron entered a plea of not guilty to three counts of human trafficking, maintaining a house of prostitution, deriving support from prostitution, witness intimidation and videotaping unsuspecting nude persons.
Judge Feeley agreed to set bail at $30,000 which Barron already posted in Lawrence District Court following her June 11 arraignment there. Also, as a condition of bail, Feeley ordered Barron to stay away from the victims in the case and warned her not to contact them in any way, even electronically.
Police started investigating Barron in March after a woman working for her said Barron assaulted her and dragged her by her hair down 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. The married mother of two college age daughters 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.
Her client list, which detectives are still compiling, may have up to 2,000 client names. No specific names were released but customers were allegedly a Methuen police officer, Methuen firefighters, a Haverhill city councilor, Lawrence and Amesbury teachers, lawyers and court workers, according to police reports.
It’s still unclear if any of Barron’s clients will be charged in connection with the case.
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.