According to Newark Post, Bifang Zhong, a 45-year-old Chinese native woman from Brooklyn, NY, was arrested in December and has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for her involvement in a sex trafficking ring that operated at Elkton Road Spa.
Maryland State Police detectives arrested Zhong and following a two-month-long investigation, charged her with eight sex trafficking and prostitution offenses, all of which are misdemeanors.
The police's investigation focused on the former Spa Aromatherapy, located at 1657 Elkton Road. According to court record records, the investigation consisted of interviews with clients, surveillance cameras, cellphone tracking, and a raid in which detectives found a naked male customer in a massage room with a scantily clad female employee.
The Maryland State Police determined that several women were living in the building at Spa Aromatherapy and were engaging in sexual activities for money.
During the investigation, detectives discovered that Zhong was functioning as a representative for the women and would facilitate appointments for the sale of sexual activities. According to prosecutors, Zhong would travel to and from New York regularly to bring supplies and return the money the women earned.
On December 16, 2020, investigators received court approval for searches of Spa Aromatherapy and a vehicle operated by Zhong. According to the spokeswoman, Investigators found “significant evidence of an ongoing prostitution ring, including thousands of dollars in cash contained in Zhong’s purse that was portioned into several individual envelopes.”
According to prosecutors, while executing the search warrant investigators found two women were housed at Spa Aromatherapy. In light of disclosures that they made to investigators, no charges were filed against the two women.
On June 28, 2021, Zhong pleaded guilty to prostitution business or receiving earnings from prostitution, as part of a plea agreement, and Judge Broughton M. Earnest sentenced her to 18 months in prison and two years of supervised probation after she completes her term.
Attorney contributor Aaron Blank is an experienced sex trafficking lawyer. See below as Aaron Blank provides commentary on the legal rights of victims sexually trafficked or abused.
"Establishments have a legal right to ensure a safe environment for all its employees. If a victim is being forced to commit sexual acts in exchange for money, the establishment is committing a serious crime. Victims of sex trafficking may have grounds for a civil lawsuit against their pimp for negligence. An example of negligence is if business operators facilitate an exchange of money for sexual activities, ignore pleas for help, or threaten victims with ultimatums. In such cases, the business operator could be deemed negligent."
"If business establishments do not ensure sexual behavior is being exchanged for money, the business operator may be considered negligent in the sex abuse crimes. Examples of preventative measures would be security, surveillance, and reporting sex crimes to the police. Business operators have an obligation to monitor clients, be aware of the abuse, and report it to the police. If a business is found negligent, the victim has grounds for a civil lawsuit. Victims should acquire the services of an experienced sex abuse lawyer to explore all their legal options. Victims should know they may be eligible to receive compensation for damages."