Boro spa re­mains shut­tered

Times Chronicle & Public Spirit - - FRONT PAGE - By Jar­reau Free­man

The Sun­shine Ori­en­tal Health Spa in Jenk­in­town is no longer per­mit­ted to op­er­ate.

The rul­ing was an­nounced Tues­day when the Jenk­in­town Bor­ough Zon­ing and Hear­ing Board unan­i­mously de­cided to up­hold the bor­ough’s re­vo­ca­tion of the York Road spa’s use and oc­cu­pancy per­mit.

At­tor­ney Mark Schaf­fer, who rep­re­sented spa owner John Con­nelly, said they plan to ap­peal the rul­ing at the Mont­gomery County Court of Com­mon Pleas.

Jenk­in­town Bor­ough So­lic­i­tor Sean Kilkenny said he will continue to fight the spa un­til ad­vised oth­er­wise.

Di­rec­tor of Code En­force­ment Ge­orge Locke said he re­voked the spa’s use and oc­cu­pancy per­mit in June af­ter the bor­ough learned that spa was in vi­o­la­tion of a con­di­tion of the per­mit, which it has held since 1994.

The con­di­tion held there could be no crim­i­nal con­vic­tions at the busi­ness un­der the Penn­syl­va­nia Crime Code, Locke said, and he then read a let­ter from the Mont­gomery County De­tec­tives Bureau out­lin­ing charges of pros­ti­tu­tion that have been levied against the spa over the past seven years.

Ac­cord­ing to the let­ter, a woman was ar­rested in 2005 and con­victed of pros­ti­tu­tion at the spa. Of­fi­cials seized $4,289 in cash and 16 con­doms at the es­tab­lish­ment at the time of her ar­rest.

In 2008 an­other fe­male em­ployee was charged with

pros­ti­tu­tion, al­though she was con­victed only dis­or­derly con­duct, and in 2011, two women were charged with pros­ti­tu­tion af­ter two un­der­cover state troop­ers paid them $100 each to en­gage in sex­ual in­ter­course. The women were ar­rested and $3,914 in cash was seized, along with con­doms and se­cu­rity equip­ment. They were later con­victed of dis­or­derly con­duct, the let­ter states.

Schaf­fer asked Locke, whom he thought the crim­i­nal con­vic­tions un­der the crime code ap­plied to, and Locke replied he be­lieved it ap­plied to the busi­ness own­ers and prop­erty own­ers.

How­ever, Con­nelly and prop­erty owner Joel Zisholtz main­tained they were not con­victed of any crimes re­lated to the spa.

Jenk­in­town po­lice Chief Al­bert DiValentino tes­ti­fied that he found ad­ver­tise­ments for the spa on­line that con­tained sug­ges­tive con­tent.

“The ad­ver­tise­ments con­cerned me,” DiValentino said. “The [com­ments leftz were ex­plicit.”

Con­nelly tes­ti­fied that he has been leas­ing the prop­erty at 111 York Road from own­ers Joel and Lois Zisholtz for 18 years, and that he had two em­ploy­ees at the busi­ness — a main­te­nance man and a clean­ing lady.

The spa’s mes­sage ther­a­pists, whom he re­ferred to as his “cus­tomers” and “at­ten­dants,” rented the space from him, he said, and said the spa hours were from 10 to 2 a.m. to ac­com­mo­date the sched­ules of the ther­a­pists’ clients.

Con­nelly said he has rules that the at­ten­dants have to abide by.

“No one un­der the age of 21 is al­lowed, there can be no al­co­hol or drugs, no in­ap­pro­pri­ate sex­ual ac­tiv­ity and the ther­a­pist must be an Amer­i­can ci­ti­zen or have a valid work­ing visa,” he said.

Some of the at­ten­dants have not fol­lowed the rules, how­ever, and that he had to fire ther­a­pists in the past for be­ing late to work and for steal­ing money from the other ther­a­pists, Con­nelly said.

“They are adults and honor­able peo­ple,” he said. “I don’t look for the bad in peo­ple … [butz if they don’t fol­low the rules they are done.”

Joel Zisholtz tes­ti­fied that he has owned 111 York Road since 1982 and said the only vi­o­la­tion notice he has re­ceived was the one is­sued by Locke for the 2011 spa ar­rests.

When Kilkenny asked Zisholtz if he knew of any other il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity at the spa, he said he was aware only of the in­ci­dent from 2005.

“Some­where in the last 10 years, I knew there was some kind of po­lice raid,” he said.

The board’s rul­ing had mixed re­views from meet­ing at­ten­dees.

A spa em­ployee who asked not t o be iden­ti­fied said she would sue the bor­ough and the in­di­vid­ual who posted a sign al­legedly con­tain­ing a ra­cial slur on the spa’s door.

“I’m thrilled,” said Jenk­in­town res­i­dent Steven Mori­coni. “Be­ing two houses away from the [spaz I’m glad that, for now, a stop has been put to it.”

The Rev. Miriam Bur­nett, pas­tor of New Bethel African Methodist Church, mod­er­ates the forum dur­ing the “Bridg­ing the Com­mu­ni­ties” meet­ing Mon­day at the North Penn VFW Post 676.

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