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Superior Council revokes massage parlor license after sex trafficking allegations

The suite in the Badger Building that once housed Superior Soothing Massage. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

The Superior City Council revoked a business license for Superior Soothing Massage after the owner was charged with sex trafficking and racketeering in St. Louis County.

Superior Soothing Massage was one of three massage therapy businesses operated by Matthew Shykes, 60, and his wife, Shuangyan Yang, 49, of Hermantown. Shykes was granted the license in Superior in November.

The couple was charged with sex trafficking and racketeering in late March in St. Louis County on accusations the couple recruited women from California to provide sexual services to clients at their massage parlors, Shuangyan's Spa, 2521 Miller Trunk Highway, Duluth; Better Massage, 2304 Mountain Shadow Drive, Duluth; and Superior Soothing Massage, 1225 Tower Ave.

Duluth Police Department investigators became aware of advertisements for Better Massage on backpage.com in late 2017, and reviews for that and Shuangyan's Spa on another website and launched an investigation into the businesses, according to the criminal complaint against Shykes.

Superior police were notified by the Duluth investigators in March about the ongoing investigation. Superior police officers questioned customers leaving the Tower Avenue business on March 20. According to the complaint considered by the Council, one customer admitted to receiving a sexual act in exchange for money; another said he didn't engage in a sexual act, but felt he could have if he wanted.

Wisconsin Administrative Code prohibits sexual contact with a client in a massage therapy business, and city ordinance provides for a license revocation for legal violations.

Shykes has seven days from the delivery of the Notice of Revocation to appeal the decision.

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