PUEBLO, Colo. - Four employees of a massage-type business in Pueblo are scheduled to appear in court next week on charges of selling sex along with service to customers.
The owner of the Eden Relaxation Center on Eagleridge Boulevard said she was not present when police narcotics officers conducted two sting operations on June 21 and July 9.
The owner, who has not been charged and asked to remain anonymous, said her business is not a massage parlor but a place that offers "sexy massages and body rubs." The website describes the staff as providing services "topless, in the nude or in fantasy attire," although one employee said nude services were never provided.
The website also includes photos of the employees scantily clad or in suggestive attire.
The business closed Wednesday after the second sting, and the owner voluntarily surrendered her license. She said she already was trying to get out of her lease because a conflict with a former family member.
The owner and two of the women charged spoke with KRDO NewsChannel 13 on condition of anonymity. They say they're upset about how police treated them.
"(An undercover officer) told me he had $400 and (asked) if he could get any extras," one woman said. "I simply said no, and he touched me in places that should not have been touched at all."
The woman said moments later, as many as 10 officers "just broke the door open."
Another woman accused an officer of propositioning her, telling her sexual jokes and refused to allow her to cover her topless body.
The owner said she and the women plan to seek charges of harassment, intimidation and sexual misconduct against the sting officers.
"Over the last several weeks, we have been continuously harassed by the police and our neighbors," she said. "We have been searched two times without warrants. We've asked for warrants. We've had our building ransacked, searched. They've found no trace of sexual anything."
The owner said the situation is ruining the lives of the women charged, and other lives as well.
"We've had a lot of problems with ex-husbands, child custody cases, unnecessary scrutiny," she said. "(Everyone is) on a witch hunt."
Police said they received anonymous tips and complaints from surrounding merchants about possible illegal activity at the business.
"We sent undercover officers in," said Sgt. Eric Gonzales. "They would ask for sex, and as soon as the women were about to provide it, we arrested them."
The women denied that anyone was arrested.
"We did not trade sexual favors for money," they said.
Police issued the women citations for violating the city's code prohibiting prostitution. One of the women also was cited for complicity after the second sting because police said she wasn't offering sex but knew that her co-workers were.
That woman, her co-workers said, was simply answering phone calls at the reception desk.
The women, along with more than a dozen alleged customers who also were cited, each face a fine of $1,000 and could be required to submit to an HIV test at their own expense.