- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 10, 2011

“Wow, what else?”

That was the question an undercover D.C. police officer posed to a masseuse during an October 2009 investigation of a now-shuttered massage parlor across the street from the U.S. Marine Corps barracks on Eighth Street Southeast.

The officer, lying naked on a massage table, was being massaged by a female suspect and being “touched in the groin area” when he asked his question.

The woman’s reply: “Everything.”

Things between the officer and suspect didn’t go any further, though, and authorities later raided the business and filed criminal and civil complaints alleging prostitution and other charges.

But court records in the case show that the investigative techniques employed by the Metropolitan Police Department were similar to those detailed in a civil complaint in recent weeks that city officials filed to shut down another massage business on M Street Northwest.

During an undercover investigation of the M Street business, Jasmine Therapy, an officer took off all of his clothes and accompanied a suspect into a shower room, where she scrubbed his body “to include the genital area,” according to court records.

When questioned whether the tactics are standard procedure, police officials were quick to point out to The Washington Times last week that those sorts of activities aren’t allowed.

“Physical contact between a suspect and a member in one of these types of operations is prohibited, but, as you can imagine, it also can be very difficult to control,” Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump said, referring to the Jasmine Therapy investigation.

She said the police would look into the case to determine whether physical contact could have been avoided, but made clear that it is “not standard procedure in these types of operations.”

However, records from an earlier investigation into a now-closed massage parlor on the 700 block of Eighth Street Southeast show undercover D.C. officers made similar efforts to lay bare evidence.

After the police investigation, two women were arrested for soliciting prostitution after a raid. Another woman pleaded guilty last year to operating a house of prostitution.

According to case records, on Oct. 30, 2009, about 4:30 p.m., an officer was led into a private room at the massage parlor on Eighth Street where he met a woman and asked for “everything for $160” before handing her money.

She left the room and returned shortly, according to the D.C. Superior Court papers that authorities filed to take possession of thousands of dollars found at the business. The documents don’t name the undercover officers and refer to them only as UC1 and UC2.

“When she returned, she told UC1 to get undressed and lay on the table,” the court papers say. He did, and the woman “then touched UC1 in the groin area.”

Minutes later, another undercover officer entered the building and he, too, requested “$160 for everything.” The second officer, who also was told to get undressed, kept his underpants on but was later “ordered” to take them off, according to the documents. It’s unclear from the court records whether the second undercover officer complied with the woman’s order and uncovered as much as his colleague did or whether he kept his underpants on.

• Jim McElhatton can be reached at jmcelhatton@washingtontimes.com.

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