A look into how same location was raided for prostitution twice

A look into how same Knoxville location was raided for prostitution twice

Posted:
In September, the business, located at 5833 Clinton Highway, was raided for organized prostitution while under the name "Smile Spa." In September, the business, located at 5833 Clinton Highway, was raided for organized prostitution while under the name "Smile Spa."
Thursday night, it was closed down again for the same offense, though this time it was listed under the name "Green Spa" with a new owner listed on the city license application. Thursday night, it was closed down again for the same offense, though this time it was listed under the name "Green Spa" with a new owner listed on the city license application.
Filing a new business license under that same address wasn't enough cause for alarm by itself. The city and county clerk's office have no authority to deny business license applications. Filing a new business license under that same address wasn't enough cause for alarm by itself. The city and county clerk's office have no authority to deny business license applications.

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - After the same location was raided twice in four months for prostitution, 6 News looked into how the crime allegedly happened again in the same spot.

"This is the first time the same location has been closed down now twice," Assistant District Attorney Sean McDermott said.

In September, the business, located at 5833 Clinton Highway, was raided for organized prostitution while under the name "Smile Spa."

Thursday night, it was closed down again for the same offense, though this time it was listed under the name "Green Spa" with a new owner listed on the city license application.

"The fact that a spa opened up in that same location is not a violation of the law," McDermott said. "There are plenty of legitimate spas that are legitimate businesses. It wasn't until there was evidence this was a front for prostitution that became a crime."

The Knoxville Police Department said within a week of Green Spa opening, it began an investigation into another ring of alleged prostitution.

That was thanks to tips from patrol officers working that area and members of the community.

"In nuisance actions, the public is always the first line of defense and we rely on their complaints as we do with most crimes," McDermott said.

Filing a new business license under that same address wasn't enough cause for alarm by itself. The city and county clerk's office have no authority to deny business license applications.

"We accept the facts on the application on a good faith basis and we can't question those facts nor do we have the resources to do so," Knox County Deputy Clerk Will Johnson said.

The owner of Green Spa did not file a license with the county even though it should have filed one; the owner only filed a license with the city.

McDermott said the District Attorney General's office is taking steps to keep this from happening again.

The office is asking a judge for permanent closure of Green Spa and they're requesting that any new tenants for that building undergo background checks with law enforcement before moving into that location.

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