Law enforcement investigated The Woodburn Spa soon after two prominent regional politicians reported getting propositioned there in early 2022.

Julia Shumway/Oregon Capital Chronicle / Julia Shumway/Oregon Funds Chronicle

Woodburn Mayor Eric Swenson and Anthony Medina, the chair of the city’s faculty board, took their political occupations to one more degree earlier this yr. Managing individually, the Democrats won their party’s nominations for a pair of Woodburn legislative seats — Swenson in the Oregon Senate, Medina in the state Dwelling.

But the two gentlemen have a little something else in prevalent that could sluggish their momentum: Both of those told Woodburn law enforcement they experienced sexual make contact with with staff at a community spa, then voluntarily documented that carry out to authorities.

Woodburn Mayor Eric Swenson abandoned his bid for state Senate, despite winning the Democratic nomination in May.

Woodburn Mayor Eric Swenson deserted his bid for state Senate, inspite of successful the Democratic nomination in May possibly.

Metropolis of Woodburn

According to video clips of police interviews, Swenson and Medina went to police individually in February, and their visits to spa have been independent and unrelated.

The adult males, who serve collectively on the Woodburn university board, supplied similar tales. Both equally instructed police they’d gone to The Woodburn Spa for a massage, and ended up stunned when a workers member initiated erotic make contact with, in accordance to their police interviews, which OPB attained as a result of a public data request. Swenson and Medina both of those stated they ended up caught off guard and left the setting up.

No prices have been filed in the make a difference. Paperwork attained by way of the state’s public information regulations clearly show law enforcement arrested and ticketed two persons for practicing massage devoid of a license, but advise they do not prepare on pursuing even further prices. They also display that the FBI is not hunting into allegations of sexual trafficking at the company.

Even without the need of charges, the twin incidents could have political reverberations in an election year.

Swenson astonished a lot of political watchers in June when he deserted his race for Senate District 11 abruptly, telling supporters he’d decided to seek one more time period as mayor as an alternative. The Woodburn mayor has stuck by that story, but his connection to the police investigation had been whispered about in political circles forward of his announcement.

The head of the Senate Democrats’ marketing campaign arm, Oliver Muggli, acknowledged Wednesday that that make any difference experienced emerged as the celebration started making ready to assistance Swenson in the normal election. But Muggli mentioned Democrats experienced not asked Swenson to move apart. Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, whose seat Swenson was looking for, declined to say in June whether unflattering aspects experienced emerged about the mayor.

“I never know anything factually, particularly, if that’s what you are asking,” reported Courtney, who is not seeking reelection.

Swenson instructed OPB in late June that the police make any difference was “way way down” his record of good reasons for withdrawing, but declined to go into particulars about what he’d in fact informed law enforcement. In an electronic mail to OPB Tuesday, Swenson reiterated that he’d gone to law enforcement in February to report the spa incident, right before he filed to run for the Legislature.

“I entered the senate race obtaining currently claimed this — and figuring out there was some risk it could turn into public,” Swenson wrote. “If it did, I did not imagine that fulfilling my civic duty by reporting an incident to support an investigation into feasible illegal exercise would participate in a main variable in a political race, even if the situation may well look newsworthy to some.”

Medina, the university board chairman and a policy analyst at the state’s Bigger Education and learning Coordinating Commission, went to law enforcement 1st to report inappropriate make contact with at the therapeutic massage parlor. He phoned Woodburn on Feb. 9, information demonstrate, shortly after he explained what he anticipated to be a regimen therapeutic massage turned unexpectedly into an offer you of sexual get hold of.

In accordance to a police report, Medina described that he routinely obtained massages by a chiropractor, but the assistance was booked up. He mentioned he resolved to attempt The Woodburn Spa, which had lately opened and made available wander-in appointments.

Medina described a masseuse straddling him at a single position, and claimed he asked her to stop when she grabbed him inappropriately. The girl abruptly ended the therapeutic massage when he declined sexual contact, he explained.

In a temporary taped job interview with a law enforcement detective on Feb. 15, Medina determined the girl who’d specified him the massage from a photograph lineup. In that police interview, Medina informed a detective he’d stated what happened to Swenson, immediately after operating into the mayor in a coffee shop.

“I felt like I desired to explain to him what transpired,” Medina told a detective. “He reported, ‘OK, I did not know that.’ A handful of hours later on … he gave me a simply call and explained, ‘I have to get a thing off my upper body. The identical point occurred to me. The identical specific put.’”

Medina declined to speak with OPB in June about his involvement with the grievance, other than to say that he filed a report with law enforcement in February and that law enforcement experienced requested him not to discuss an open up investigation.

In a statement Thursday, Medina claimed that he’d been a target of sexual assault in the earlier, and that the practical experience in the massage parlor renewed that trauma.

“As I processed the working experience, I talked about it to with the human being I have faith in the most: my spouse,” he wrote. “She mentioned that I must report it to the law enforcement – not just mainly because of what took place to me, but mainly because these locations are normally hubs of human trafficking and exploitation… These can be tricky factors to converse about, but we all have a accountability to act, regardless of whether you are a sufferer or are aware of any probability that human trafficking and exploitation may be going on in our neighborhood.”

Swenson sat down with Woodburn law enforcement a day right after Medina. In an job interview that lasted just about an hour, he described going to the spa at 8 p.m. at some position in the earlier thirty day period — he was not guaranteed of the date, he reported. Swenson explained to police his arm was hurting him, and that the parlor was the only area however open up at that time of evening.

In accordance to Swenson, a girl at the parlor questioned him repeatedly what he wished, and he replied each and every time that he wanted “a therapeutic massage.” But partway by means of, he stated, matters grew to become “inappropriate.” Immediately after what Swenson stated was “three or 4 minutes” of “mutual groping,” he explained he came to his senses and left the small business. Swenson told police the girl did not contact his genitals.

Swenson did not imagine to report the issue until eventually he heard Medina’s account months afterwards, he reported in a taped police interview.

“I walked absent from that contemplating ‘There’s a position not to go back to,’” Swenson said in the tape. “But when I heard [Medina’s story] I considered: There is a more substantial context.”

In the job interview, a detective prompt law enforcement are searching into the massage parlor, stating: “We want to keep them responsible, and we want to get justice for the persons who have come to be victims, like you and Mr. Medina.”

“I do not will need justice, so much, other than to fail to remember the total thing,” Swenson responded.

In an email this 7 days, Swenson declined to give aspects about the come upon other than to say: “In small, I was in an inappropriate condition, was briefly inappropriate myself, eliminated myself from that predicament and voluntarily reported it to the law enforcement when I realized there was an investigation into illegal action at this enterprise in my city. I did so knowing that police reviews could be designed general public and I told the truth of the matter, nevertheless unflattering that could possibly replicate on me, hoping this evidence could be employed to stop further more unlawful action.”

Next their individual interviews with law enforcement, the two Medina and Swenson submitted to operate for the state Legislature. The two inevitably received Democratic primaries, advancing to the November general election.

Medina unwittingly assisted make the subject general public in June, when he submitted a community information ask for with the city of Woodburn for the police investigation into the spa. As OPB has claimed, that request set off alarm bells in Woodburn City Hall, wherever officials worried they would have a conflict in both of those doing work for Swenson and choosing irrespective of whether his disclosure to law enforcement was component of the public history.

On June 23, Town Administrator Scott Derickson and Metropolis Legal professional N. Robert Shields wrote a memo that unveiled they experienced talked about the matter with Swenson in February, recommending he go to law enforcement. The metropolis of Woodburn employed an outside legal professional to support officials discern which documents are necessary to be released below point out regulation. On Monday, the Woodburn Metropolis Council satisfied in government session to go over people records out of the general public eye.

Though Medina and Swenson insist they did absolutely nothing improper, their relation to the spa and a law enforcement investigation is likely fodder for rivals in an election 12 months. As of Thursday, Medina was however the Democratic nominee for House District 22, a properly Democratic seat that stretches from Woodburn to Salem.

Swenson, in the meantime, has not nonetheless submitted to operate for reelection as mayor, Woodburn Metropolis Recorder Heather Pierson explained Monday. He has until Aug. 30 to do so.

Swenson’s departure from the Woodburn Senate race stirred transient but intense controversy very last thirty day period, in element for the reason that he proposed that a political ally, point out Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon, D-Woodburn, exchange him as nominee.

Observers in the two political functions speculated that Swenson may well have prepared to fall out all alongside in order to conserve a space for Alonso-Leon, who failed in a bid for Congress this year and in performing so forfeited her capacity to run for the Legislature. Democratic occasion officers within the district wound up in its place deciding on Keizer legal professional Rich Walsh, who came in 2nd to Swenson in the Might Democratic principal, to fill the slot.

The company the place Swenson and Medina say they had been caught unawares, The Woodburn Spa, provides complete-human body massages that range from $50 to $120, based on period.

A internet site for the spa capabilities what appear to be to be stock photographs of younger Asian women. The spa also appears to have marketed on bodyrubpage.com, a platform for finding what the web page calls “erotic and delighted ending massage.” A four-thirty day period-old listing bearing the spa’s name and selection includes far more suggestive images of youthful Asian girls, and touts a “new sweet lovable girl,” along with “a new way of massage that delivers you the greatest five-star relaxation” and a facility that is disinfected everyday.

Swenson and Medina weren’t the very first people to flag the therapeutic massage parlor for likely unlawful action. In accordance to a law enforcement report, a man or woman phoned police without having supplying their title in December to report prostitution at the enterprise, indicating that “a friend’s marriage had been ruined by the exercise there.” A detective appeared up the title of the company owner, then enable the make any difference drop, in accordance to the report.

Data present the small business was first registered with the state in Oct 2021 by a individual named Fuxiu Zhen, who lists a Southern California handle in some state filings and also is affiliated with therapeutic massage parlors in Eugene and Portland.

Zhen seems to have submitted to dissolve Woodburn Spa LLC in April. But the spa’s web site is however up, and a woman who answered the mobile phone there Thursday mentioned the business enterprise was accepting new appointments.

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