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Massage therapist in Bennington want more oversight from state after spa raids


BENNINGTON, Vt. -- It's been two weeks since two spas were raided in Bennington by police and FBI. Now the owner of this massage therapy business says more needs to be done to regulate the industry and shut places down that are prone to illegal activity.

It's a sore sight for Laura Bull who was licensed for massage therapy in Florida.

"It's unfortunate, they have the words massage therapy right on their doors," Bull said. "That hits me personally every time I drive by that place. They have nothing to do with therapy."

Bull was referring to the Green Spa, which now hangs a sign that reads that it is temporarily closed. Police and FBI raided the business earlier this month to investigate the spa as they looked for evidence of prostitution and human trafficking.

"One of the reasons it's hard for them to shut them down is because there is no regulation of massage in Vermont," Bull said.

Currently in the state, anyone can set up shop and call themselves a massage therapist, according to Bull. When we drove by the Cozy Spa, which was also raided in early May, the neon "Open" sign was still lit up.

"It's sad because they say they do what I do," Bull said.

Bull said she wants to change how the industry is regulated and one local law maker has already enlisted her help in drafting a bill.

"This is me standing up for my profession," Bull said. "This is me saying massage is valid."

She said that if operators were required to be licensed by the state it would lessen the oversight by the State Office of Professional Regulation, but first she said she would have to convince those who oppose the idea.

"Their opinion is other states that have the regulation do not stop the sexual acts from happening," Bull explained.

However, Bull said she believed that if regulation had been in place, the spas that were raided may have been shut down earlier. The legislation could be introduced in January. Bull said that in 2010 similar legislation was introduced, but failed to pass.

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