COLORADO SPRINGS & EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - We've been investigating the illicit sex trade at Asian spas across Colorado Springs for months, but a local business owner has been trying to get a nearby spa removed for years.
Finally, after our "Hidden in Plain Sight" special report, Paris Spa in east Colorado Springs will soon be closed. Paris Spa, formerly operating as Abundance Spa, is one of 36 active Asian spas with recent reviews linking their employees to sex acts.
Our exposé shined a light on the three-dozen spas with reviews on Rubmaps, a website that features reviews of sex acts obtained at these locations. Last week, we showed you how our special report became a topic on Rubmaps message boards.
Paris Spa was no exception, and there were explicit reviews and sexual ads online for the spa.
We showed you surveillance footage outside Paris Spa while we waited for the employees to leave the building at the end of the night. We were there for three hours past closing and still didn't see anyone leave.
Brian Winslow is one of the property owners of the shopping center that houses Paris Spa; he has been working for four years to get the overseeing Homeowners Association to intervene.
"It's always been very disturbing," Winslow said. "But the HOA has refused to act."
Two years later, the answer is still the same.
"We brought all of that to them," Winslow said, referring to the sexual ads posted online. "And they did nothing about it."
That's despite multiple clauses in the contract requiring the HOA to act on Paris Spa, including zoning requirements specifying the property is for office use and a clause falling under the "nuisance" category.
HOA President Keith Brooks wouldn't comment to KRDO about the inaction. He responded to an interview request saying he's "not interested in being contacted regarding Paris Spa."
When we attempted to talk to him in person, he turned his body away from our camera and told us to "turn that s**t off."
Brooks then went into another room away from our crew and screamed loudly.
We wrote to Brooks and told him, "There are obvious signs of not only prostitution at this establishment, but also human trafficking. Are you going to continue to look the other way?"
The property owner for the part of the shopping center that houses Paris Spa is Jeff Barnum of California. He didn't answer any of our calls or requests for an interview.
That silence is unacceptable, says Julee Bellar, chairman of the Human Trafficking Task Force of Southern Colorado.
"They are condoning that," Bellar said. "They're allowing somebody to be abused and because it's money, is that OK? They have to step up. If they're going to be renting to a business, they need to know what's going on in that business, and they need to be beyond sure."
But thanks to an increased spotlight on the illicit activities going on inside the spas, there appears to be a change of heart from the HOA.
"Due to the coverage from your news outlet, we have had further conversations with the HOA, and it does look like we will have actions being taken," Winslow said. "It's good that no one will be exploited any longer."
Paris Spa is soon to be closed, but that only drops the count to 35 spas linked to the sex trade.