A Butler County judge has refused to find the laws that outlaw prostitution in Ohio unconstitutional in the case against two women who were operating a massage parlor in Fairfield Twp.
Judge Charles Pater held a brief hearing Wednesday in the case against Yunmei Wallis of Dayton and her massage parlor manager, Xiaoyan Guo, of Cincinnati. Wallis’ attorney filed a motion in July, asking Pater to declare prohibitions against prostitution unconstitutional.
“Ohio prostitution statue compromises the protected right to sexual privacy by denying consenting adults the right to make decisions about sexuality in the commercial market place,” Blake Somers wrote in his motion. “Such an instruction is not justified or mitigated by societal moral concerns. When a law violates the constitutional rights of people, it must be overturned. As such, making the sale of sex illegal violates the right of sexual privacy derived from the due process clause and the defendant herein seeks nothing more that to invoke the principals of liberty that already exists.”
Pater said after he read the briefs filed by both sides, the prosecutor’s was more persuasive.
“I thought the state’s memorandum was more consistent with the law as it is now,” the judge said. “Although there’s not a lot of case law out there.”
Wallis and Guo were arrested Oct. 30 when police raided the Asian Spa at 3991 Hamilton-Middletown Road. The pair were charged with two counts of promoting prostitution, fourth degree felonies and prostitution, Wallis has one charge and Guo two counts on the misdemeanor charges.
Detectives served search warrants on the spa following a year-long investigation that included surveillance and an undercover operation. Butler County Sheriff’s officials said the business had been open for several months and reports of possible illegal sexual acts being performed in the parlor began almost immediately.
Police searched Wallis’ car and home as well, and her attorney filed a motion to suppress after a superseding indictment was filed in May that alleges police found $4,100 and $6,298 in her home and/or on her person. Somers in his motion said the alleged criminal activity didn’t take place in either location so the evidence should be suppressed.
“The warrant in this case, and the affidavit upon which it issued, both fail to present any probable cause that evidence related to alleged prostitution at the massage parlor would be found at defendant’s home,” Somers wrote. “And this should have been clear to the officers executing the warrant.”
Both defendants have also asked Pater to sever their cases. Somers said there is a distinct possibility guilt by association could sway a potential jury.
“Ms. Guo is alleged to have participated in multiple acts of prostitution with multiple undercover officers and herself admits to ‘overseeing’ the operations of the massage parlor where the alleged acts occurred,” Somers wrote. “These allegations greatly exceed those against Mrs. Wallis, even taken at their broadest scope.”
Pater will hold a hearing on the suppression and severance motions on Nov. 24.
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