A man from Utah is taking legal action following his involvement in a human trafficking ring for driving his wife to and from her job at Asian massage businesses in Utah County. Joseph Ferreri, his wife Juying Wang, and several others related to the businesses where Wang worked were arrested in early 2021 when police raided the locations. The arrest documents show heavy reliance on generalizations about Asian massage businesses and race-based stereotypes, along with several misrepresentations. For example, Wang, although in her 50s and older than Ferreri, was referred to as a “girl.”
Ferreri’s lawsuit against the city and the officer in charge of the investigation alleges that he was targeted based on the race and ethnicity of his wife and her occupation. In this case, the charges against Ferreri, Wang, and the other women were ultimately dropped, but not before causing significant harm to Ferreri’s life. He lost his job and faced public humiliation, and he and his wife were temporarily separated. The only work Ferreri could find after the arrest was a temporary job in a coal mine, according to the complaint.
The investigation into the massage businesses began in September 2020 after American Fork police received a tip about alleged prostitution at Sunflower Massage. Officer Shawn Lott justified Ferreri’s arrest in court documents by making generalized claims about Asian massage businesses and the women who work in them.
The arrest documents were filled with stereotypes that targeted Asian or Chinese individuals and relied on generalizations rather than evidence specific to the businesses at issue. The complaint filed by Ferreri alleges that Lott inaccurately described his marriage and used the information to raise suspicion.
The charges against Ferreri and the others were eventually dropped, but not before causing significant harm. Ferreri’s lawsuit accuses the city and Lott of violating his rights and seeks compensation for economic losses, emotional distress, and other personal injury, as well as litigation expenses. Overall, the case highlights the damaging impact of baseless accusations and the need for accountability in law enforcement practices.