Police forces raid Brattleboro spa suspected of human trafficking
A sign at Rainbow Therapeutic Spa on Putney Road in Brattleboro makes no mention of an Aug. 10 visit by authorities, who arrested the operator for allegedly profiting from prostitution.

Police forces raid Brattleboro spa suspected of human trafficking

One person arrested; affidavit claims evidence of prostitution at an entity that ‘poses as a legitimate business’

BRATTLEBORO — Following months of surveillance, authorities raided a Putney Road spa on Aug. 10 and charged one person with profiting from prostitution at the site, according to Vermont State Police.

Three women, whom police described as victims of human trafficking, were identified as a result of the raid at the Rainbow Therapeutic Spa, located between other businesses in a strip mall at 801 Putney Rd.

Authorities believe the women employed at the business also lived and slept inside the building and were not able to come and go as they pleased, according to the police affidavit.

Pok Sun Kim was arrested during the raid carried out by local, state, and federal police. She was cited to appear in Vermont Superior Court in Brattleboro on Sept. 27 on a charge of “appropriating/levying upon the earnings” of prostitution and released, according to state police. It was not clear what her role was in the spa operation.

Detective Lieutenant Michael Studin of the Vermont State Police wrote the search warrant application and an affidavit of probable cause for the warrant.

“It poses as a legitimate business but that's not the whole story,” Studin told VTDigger in an interview.

Police receive tips from community

The Vermont State Police and Homeland Security Investigations, among other agencies, have been investigating the spa over the course of the last year, according to Studin's affidavit. They found that the business was offering sexual acts to customers in exchange for money, he wrote.

The investigation started when several law enforcement agencies received tips about the illegal activity going on from concerned customers at the spa, neighboring business owners, and community members, Studin said.

Studin's 32-page affidavit included interviews with numerous men who, after leaving the spa, said they had come to the spa for sex. Investigators also monitored a website in which repeat customers graphically wrote about their experiences at the spa, according to the affidavit.

Studin told VTDigger it is common for these kinds of investigations to take a long time due to the resources needed to conduct it in detail and to obtain the amount of information needed to do so.

The affidavit noted that the use of modern technology significantly contributes to the proliferation of commercial sex and related criminal activitiy, as many of the men who frequented Rainbow Therapeutic Spa found the establishment on anonymous internet forums.

Studin told VTDigger that he was most struck by the frequency of Rainbow Therapeutic Spa customers who paid for sexual services and the variety of people who came to the spa for such services - both in terms of their demographics and geographic origins.

In addition to various men from Vermont, authorities interviewed several men from other parts of New England, along with a man from New York and one from Florida, according to the affidavit.

None of the three victims police located in Brattleboro were minors, Studin told VTDigger. Authorities do not know how many women were impacted by the scheme, as there is a rotation of women who are transported through various spas, both statewide and nationally, he said.

“The victims that we encountered yesterday, if we would have done this maybe three months earlier or three months later, it could have been a different group of women, because they cycle through a lot of these places,” Studin said.

Both during and after the Brattleboro spa's hours of operation, none of the 24-hour surveillance footage reviewed showed any of the women employed at the business entering or exiting the building, except to lock the door.

According to the affidavit, police are looking into connections between the Brattleboro spa and a 2015 raid on the Ocean Sauna spa in Mobile, Ala.

Police indicated the owner and operator of Ocean Sauna spa, Soon Won Yang, is the mother of Kwang Nam Kim, who is listed in corporate filings as business director at Rainbow Therapeutic Spa. Kim was involved in Ocean Sauna spa's day-to-day operations, according to the affidavit.

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