ELYRIA — The lawyer for a woman accused of soliciting an undercover Elyria police officer at the massage parlor she worked at said Friday that his client never offered sexual services.
Kenneth Lieux said he reviewed a tape made by the officer who was posing as a customer and never heard Ping Liu, 61, proposition the officer March 16 at the Rejuvenation Spa on Griswold Road.
“If we proceed to trial, I expect to argue entrapment,” he said.
Elyria police Capt. Chris Costantino said although he hasn’t listened to the tape, Liu wouldn’t have been arrested if she hadn’t made sexual overtures to the undercover officer.
“An offer was made for sexual services,” Costantino said.
Police have said the cost of the massage was $50, and Liu offered to perform sex acts for an additional $100.
Police scheduled a one-hour massage appointment at the spa for the officer after they spotted ads for the business on Backpage.com that featured “provocative images” of younger women in short skirts and bras, according to an affidavit used to obtain a search warrant in the case.
The affidavit also said that police had received complaints about the business.
In a request filed in Elyria Municipal Court seeking to have evidence seized in the case thrown out, Lieux argued that he’s been provided no evidence of actual complaints filed with police about Rejuvenation Spa and that there is nothing illegal about using sexualized images in advertising.
“It asserts that photos of scantily clad women showing cleavage is tantamount to solicitation for prostitution,” Lieux wrote. “It is readily apparent that most product advertisement in the United States utilizes scantily clad women showing cleavage.”
Costantino said police had information about the spa and also monitor Backpage.com because it is often used to advertise sexual services and for human trafficking. He said the pictures for the spa were of very young women, who would have been underage.
The online also contained such key words as “magic touch,” “100% pretty,” “100% young” and “new Asian girls,” according to the affidavit.
“If they were running a legitimate business, they would have no problem with us,” Costantino said.
Lieux also argued that the search warrant, signed by Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Chris Cook, was problematic because it was granted before police actually visited the spa. He wrote the warrant inappropriately left the decision of whether there was enough evidence to search the business up to police rather than a court.
Police entered the business after the undercover officer spoke a prearranged code word, according to court documents.
Liu was charged with solicitation while another woman at the spa, 52-year-old Lirong Yang, was charged with obstructing official business.
A call to Yang’s attorney wasn’t returned Friday.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.