DELAWARE COUNTY, Ohio (WCMH) — Closing arguments were heard Thursday for three family members on trial in Delaware County court for running what the state calls sex-for-pay brothels.
The owner and family employees operated three massage parlors in Powell, Hilliard and Worthington. They are accused of keeping women against their will, and allegedly forced them to sleep at night on their massage tables. The women were brought into the central Ohio parlors from Los Angeles, New York and Miami.
Qing Xu, 57, her husband Xiaoshuang Chao, 57, and her sister Estella Xu, 55, all told Judge J. Timothy Campbell through a Chinese translator that they didn’t want to testify. All three are accused of trafficking women.
The three are charged with 15 counts of prostitution, money laundering, and practicing medicine without a license – by advertising their business as “massage therapy.”
“They say sex sells and that is what they were doing here sell sex,” said Doug Dumolt, Assistant Delaware Co Prosecutor during his closing argument.
The parlors were raided after an anonymous tip lead Powell police and the human trafficking task force to investigate.
“If you believe the workers that they were not free to leave and prostitution was going on in these establishments, this is human trafficking,” Dumolt said.
Each of the three defendants have their own attorneys. Ching Xu’s attorney Chris Soon said the women at the parlors should also be investigated.
“They stayed there because they wanted to stay there,” he said. Soon said some of the women left and then returned to the parlors.
He claimed the women were doing sexual favors on their own for tips. He told jurors those women weren’t charged with a crime, but his client and family were “because they had decided already that they were the mean old human traffickers here.”
All of the women allegedly forced to work in the parlors were given immunity from prosecution for their testimony.
The other two defendants’ attorneys, Scott Culbert and Dan Sabol, will both give their final argument Friday morning. The prosecution will have a chance for a rebuttal. The jury could deliberate the three’s fate in the afternoon.