Woman given probation in spa prostitution case


A county District Court judge granted probation before judgment to a woman who was charged with prostitution after a police raid at a Columbia spa in January.

Judge Lenore R. Gelfman found Song A. Westphal, 41, now a resident of Colorado, guilty of prostitution, based on a statement of facts from a police report read in court by Assistant State's Attorney Mary V. Murphy.

Under the probation before judgment finding, there will be no prostitution conviction on Westphal's record if she complies with the probation terms.

Gelfman fined Westphal $250, placed her on six months of unsupervised probation and ordered her to obtain a blood test for the human immunodeficiency virus at her own expense.

"Although there were condoms used at the spa, they are not foolproof, and diseases can still be transmitted," Gelfman said.

Westphal and another woman, Soon A. Allendar, were arrested on Jan. 25 at the Tokyo Spa, at 7060 Oakland Mills Road, and charged with soliciting a sexual act from two male customers.

The Police Department's decision to charge only the women and not the male customers reflects sexist attitudes on the part of the police, said Westphal's lawyer, Clarke Ahlers.

"We have men in the community who will not face their day in court, and the Korean women were led away in handcuffs," Ahlers said.

At the time of the arrests, police said they elected not to charge the men so that they could be summoned to testify against the two women as state's witnesses.

However, Ahlers said the men could still have testified for the state as part of a plea agreement or in exchange for immunity.

"They're very cleverly trying to hide the underlying motive for not charging these men," Ahlers said.

Sgt. Gary Gardner, a police spokesman, said the Police Department was never concerned with concealing the identities of the male spa customers.

"The guilty plea on the part of the defendant justified our actions," he said.

Police began an investigation into the spa following citizen complaints about the business. Ten police officers raided the spa after an informant had sexual intercourse with a spa employee in exchange for money, Ahlers said.

The spa charged $40 to $60 for an Oriental shower and massage, but clients also could pay $100 to $150 for sex acts, police said.

Johnson said police have not received any complaints about the spa since the arrests.

Allendar's case has not been scheduled for trial.

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