Ongoing Investigation of Possible Prostitution in Spas in Bennington

By Brady Williams '16

On May 8, The Bennington Police Department and the FBI executed Search Warrants on the Cozy Spa, and the Green Spa, both in downtown Bennington. These warrants were issued in relation to alleged prostitution and human trafficking violations. Both The Green Spa, known as “The Rub and Tug” by locals, and the Cozy Spa remain open.

Both spas have significant web presences, advertising on Backpage, in the Albany BodyRubs section. Backpage is well known for hosting thinly veiled ads for escorts and prostitution.

Both spas are also featured in a forum hosted on usasexgude.info. Here self described “veteran hobbyist” SilverFox69 describes in detail his August visit to The Green Spa in which he receives a sexual act.

From the message board, it appears that sexual acts are frequent but not guaranteed, as Omg1220 explains: “ I did not have the same experience that SilverFox69 did. [...] After the flip, the massage continued and I was ready for the happy part, but (unlike SilverFox) it never came. […] It was clear that the happy ending was to be without the happy.” This, though, is where the Cozy Spa appears: unable to get his “happy ending” Omg1220 continues his search “I decide that I will not be denied and head over to Cozy Spa (formerly R&R) which is like 90 seconds away. The price is a little steep, but this is option 2 of 2 in Bennington.”

Most of the commenters on usasexguide.info appear to be from out of state, in part because unlike the surrounding states, Vermont does not regulate massage therapy. The American Massage Therapy Association has attempted to require licensing but has been unable to prove that the lack of regulation is harming the public. The Licensing requirements in New York State include having graduated from high school and having completed a certified massage therapy program, which includes 1000 hours of instruction in subjects ranging from anatomy to CPR. These requirements significantly increase the barrier to entry and disincentive sexual acts. Another side effect of the lack of regulation-Insurance companies refuse to cover massage therapy; understandably so considering the ease of which passing off sexual acts as massage therapy.

Currently, the investigation is ongoing. No arrests have been made, and the documents of the three women who work at the Green Spa, are being examined to ensure that there are no violations of Immigration law.