HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Much about a human trafficking case against a small chain of massage parlors in Madison and Morgan Counties has remained under wraps. The way the case has traveled through the judicial system has been rather unusual.
The owners, Yuping Tang and her daughter Jiao Liu, had their assets frozen and their string of businesses shut down in April 2019. But the Alabama Supreme Court ruled Friday the state failed to carry its burden of proof on crucial parts of its case against the massage parlor owners. The court decided the state did not meet any of the necessary standards required to freeze assets, close the businesses or seize additional property.
The Alabama Supreme Court says the testimony gathered from witnesses and alleged victims during an August 2019 court hearing conflicted with some of the claims in the original investigation conducted by undercover officers who went into the parlors as customers.
The alleged human trafficking victims actually testified on behalf of the owners saying they were not kept against their will, and they always had access to their money, passports, and freedom of movement.
Tang’s attorney sent News 19 a statement regarding the Supreme Court’s decision.
“This is a case where the State Attorney General’s office seized my client’s home and her property based on mere allegations without a hearing or trial. After actually hearing evidence from witnesses other than agents of the State, the Circuit Judge ruled against the State and dismissed the order permitting the seizure of my client’s property. The State appealed the decision and my client had to remain locked out of her home until the Supreme Court issued their decision. After briefs and oral arguments, the Supreme Court affirmed the Circuit Judge’s dismissal of the State’s seizure. After almost two years without access to her home or bank accounts, my client is now permitted to return home and resume her life. This is a huge win for due process, limited government, and basic fundamental human rights that should exist in any civilized society.Chris Messervy
The Alabama Attorney General’s office expressed disappointment in the Supreme Court’s decision.
The Attorney General’s Office is disappointed in the decision reached by the Alabama Supreme Court to uphold the lower court’s denial of a preliminary injunction against the operators of TY Green’s Message Therapy, Inc. for violating Alabama’s human trafficking laws. We are reviewing the decision to determine our next legal steps.Alabama Attorney General’s Office
News 19 stopped by the former University Drive Health Massage location, the business now goes by Harmony Massage and has new owners. The employees inside tell us they have no affiliation with the old owners.
To date no criminal charges have been filed against Tang or Liu.