Kan. massage parlor employee staying in jail

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- A Wichita massage parlor employee accused in a sex trafficking scheme was ordered Wednesday to remain in federal custody pending trial.

Xiuqing Tian, of Framingham, Mass., waived her right to a detention hearing during a brief proceeding in federal court in Wichita. The government has recommended she remained jailed.

Her defense attorney, Kari Schmidt, told the court that her client has been unable to find a local residence.

"We certainly understand the recommendation and don't disagree with it," Schmidt told the judge.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Humphreys entered a not guilty plea to three counts at the brief arraignment. Tian is charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and one count of conspiracy to transport a person in interstate commerce to engage in prostitution.

Schmidt declined comment after the hearing on the allegations, saying she has not yet had time to meet at length with her client.

Tian, 42, is accused of conspiring to recruit women from around the country to come to Wichita to work at Asian massage parlors, then coercing them into prostitution. Also charged in the case are spa owner Gary H. Kidgell, 44, of Waltham, Mass., and his wife, Yan Zhang, 49, of Wichita. The conspiracy allegedly started in June 2009 and lasted until August 2011.

Authorities began investigating the massage parlors in 2010 after Wichita police detectives found Internet postings about sexual services available in Wichita. In September 2010, officials sent in undercover officers to the massage parlors. The officers paid for massages but were offered, and declined, sex acts for an added price, according to the affidavit.

Court documents indicate the defendants worked together and shared resources to operate nine massage parlors in Wichita: AG Spa, Sun Chi Spa, Dragon Spa, Eastern Massage, Oriental Massage, Phoenix Spa, Sunflower Massage, Massage 600, and Ocean Spa.

Trial has been set for Nov. 5.