|For Immediate Release
August 2, 2011
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
CALIFORNIA PASSES ANTI-HUMAN TRAFFICKING LEGISLATION TARGETING SALE OF FRAUDULENT MASSAGE DIPLOMAS AS FRONT FOR FORCED PROSTITUTION
*SB 285 was developed by Senator Lou Correa and Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas
SANTA ANA – Senator Lou Correa and Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas announced today the passage of anti-human trafficking legislation targeting the sale of massage therapy certificates, transcripts, or diplomas used as a front for forced prostitution. California Senate Bill (SB) 285 makes it a misdemeanor for any person to knowingly provide fraudulent certificates, transcripts, or diplomas to any person who has not completed proper training set forth in the transcripts as required by the California Massage Therapy Council (CMTC) or a local city. Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law yesterday, Aug. 1, 2011, and it will take effect Jan. 1, 2012.
“Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world,” said Senator Correa. “The new law will reduce the ease with which human traffickers operate in the State of California.”
“This law gives law enforcement the tools to go after human trafficking at its inception. Human traffickers need these phony diplomas to place women in illegitimate massage parlors that are really brothels. I will be working closely with other law enforcement agencies and the California Massage Therapy Council to identify and shut down these diploma mills, that are fronts for human traffickers,” said District Attorney Rackauckas. “I want to extend my profound gratitude to Senator Lou Correa for authoring and championing this legislature and to Governor Brown for signing it.”
SB 285 was passed unanimously by the California Senate and Assembly on May 31, 2011, and July 14, 2011, respectively. The bill was developed by Senator Correa and District Attorney Rackauckas and introduced by Senator Correa on Feb. 14, 2011, with input from CMTC.
Massage therapists are required to complete 500 hours of training from a licensed massage school in order to be certified in the State of California. The certification is governed by CMTC or individual cities. Prior to SB 285, massage therapy schools and organizations were selling massage school certificates, transcripts, or diplomas to untrained individuals knowing that person had not received proper instruction as required by CMTC without violating any criminal law.
Unethical businesses operating under the guise of massage parlors used the ability to purchase fraudulent massage therapist diplomas as a cover for the operation of prostitution rings. The only reason to sell these certificates, transcripts, or diplomas is to defraud the public and provide a cover story for those engaged in human trafficking to continue violating human rights by forcing women to engage in forced sexual slavery. The women tend to be indigent foreign nationals who have few resources.
SB 285 aims to impact human trafficking by making it a misdemeanor to provide “a certificate, transcript, diploma, or other document, or otherwise affirms that person has received instruction in massage therapy knowing that the person has not…”
Violators may be punished with up to one year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.