July 10th, 2018 3:31 PM
The Oak Park Board of Trustees has reversed parts of an ordinance regulating massage therapy businesses passed earlier this year after three massage businesses were closed for running prostitution rings and operating without a license.
The updated ordinance removes some of the more onerous requirements that legitimate massage therapy businesses opposed, such as requiring employees to be fingerprinted.
Massage therapy businesses also will still have to provide the village with a list of services and prices as part of their application for a business license, but they will no longer be required to post that information at the business.
The revised ordinance also scraps: requiring massage businesses to keep a written record of clients and services they are provided for review by the village; limiting their hours of operation; and posting information in public areas of the business about human trafficking.
The board also removed a requirement that massage therapists inform their clients about solicitation of sex.
Legitimate massage therapy business owners in Oak Park objected strongly to that and other requirements at the June 18 board meeting, saying the ordinance made their customers uncomfortable and damaged their credibility.
Trustees will require massage businesses to display a poster in the non-customer areas, such as a break room, that provides employees information about sex trafficking and access to a hotline to report sex trafficking.
Trustee Simone Boutet said the poster will not be seen by customers and could help protect women from prostitution operations posing as legitimate massage therapy businesses.
Three massage businesses were busted in a sting in August 2017 by the Oak Park Police Department and the Cook County Sheriff's Police – two businesses were performing sex acts on customers and one was operating without a license.