Changfeng Lin, the organizer behind the large Wasatch Front prostitution ring busted last month failed to show up in court Tuesday. Changfeng Lin was arrested in early June 2015 for establishing and managing a prostitution ring which was being run at eight massage parlors owned by Lin throughout the Wasatch Front. The illegal business exploited at least 9 women of Chinese descent, including Lin’s own wife.
Investigation and arrest
Lin’s massage parlors were advertised with online sites which are known for listing “happy endings” massage companies. This ad seeking both patrons and workers was a red flag for Utah authorities to keep an eye on Lin. Thus began the ten month investigation of his business endeavors in the Wasatch Front. During the investigation, Lin was seen traveling between the different massage parlors and residences multiple times a day, transporting female passengers from one place to another. Business licenses for each parlor were checked, female workers at the massage parlors were interview, and Lin was later arrested.
Prostitution a statewide problem
Lin’s prostitution ring was not the only illegal business of its kind in Utah. Over the last several years, prostitution has become a growing problem all over the state. There are areas that are known for street prostitution such as North Temple and State Street in Salt Lake City; however online sex solicitation and the use of business or home massage parlors as cover ups for brothels can be anywhere.
Prostitution crimes and punishments
Unlike Nevada, there are no areas in Utah where prostitution is legal. The charges and penalties for being involved depend on the suspect’s role in the prostitution ring.
Prostitution. Utah Code 76-10-1302 states “An individual is guilty of prostitution when the individual: engages in any sexual activity with another individual for a fee […]” Prostitution is considered a class B misdemeanor unless is it a repeat conviction, then it’s a class A misdemeanor.
Patronizing a prostitute. 76-10-1303, “A person is guilty of patronizing a prostitute when the person: pays or offers or agrees to pay another person a fee […] for the purpose of engaging in an act of sexual activity […]” Patronizing a prostitute is a class B misdemeanor for a first offense, and a class A misdemeanor for repeat offenses. If the person being patronized is a child, it is a 3rd degree felony.
Aiding a prostitute. Otherwise known as pimping, aiding a prostitute has the same penalties as prostitution and patronizing a prostitute: A class B misdemeanor for first offense and class A misdemeanor for any recurrent offenses.
Exploiting prostitution is a 3rd degree felony and those found guilty of this offense are the ones running prostitution businesses such as Changfeng Lin with his 8 massage parlors.
Aggravated exploitation of prostitution. Stated by Utah Code 76-10-1305, exploiting prostitution becomes an aggravated charge if the person threatens or forces someone to prostitute, or if the prostitute is a child or a spouse. This crime is a 2nd degree felony or a 1st degree felony if a child is involved. Because Lin involved his wife with his illegal business, he is facing aggravated exploitation of prostitution charges.
Hopeless with limited options
Why do many choose prostitution as a career choice? For those such as Lin who are running the show, money is usually a big motivator. For those performing the acts, is it their need for physical interaction or the thrill of breaking the law? While there may be a few that choose this path for those reasons, many turn to prostitution because they don’t know what else to do. Perhaps they lack the education or skills needed to get a regular job. Possibly they were victims of sex trafficking at an early age and don’t know a way out.
Support and legal counsel
There are community and online resources available to help those trying to leave the life of prostitution. For those who are facing charges related to a prostitution ring, a criminal defense attorney can help you sift through the legal ramifications of your charges and help repair your criminal record and your life after prostitution.