• Couple in court after being charged with running Norwell spa as prostitution front

    Updated:

    NORWELL, Mass. - A couple who ran a spa that was raided in connection to human trafficking, was in court on Tuesday, denying any allegations against them.

    Robert Eckhardt and his wife, Xiangmei Eckhardt, ran the Platinum Body Works Spa on Washington Street in Norwell. 

    After a months-long investigation, the spa was raided and police say they found that workers were offering to perform sex acts on customers, including an undercover police officer. 

    “I’ve lived here 5 years and I never knew that was happening across the street," said one neighbor. 

    The spa's sign is now gone and the building is being gutted. Residents in the area and those who work nearby said they never suspected the business was a front for prostitution. 

    Court documents show that there were at least two women living at the spa, sleeping on massage beds. 

    One woman told police she was brought to Boston by bus from Flushing, New York. Investigators noted that the city is a known illegal port of entry where these women are introduced -- often unwillingly -- into the sex trade.

    The couple posted a combined bond of $30,000 and are due back in court at the end of March.

    Correction:
    A previous headline incorrectly identified the couple as residing in Norwell. They are from Malden.

    Next Up: