BOSTON — Attorney General Maura Healey renewed her call on
Tuesday for passage of legislation that would tighten state laws
around the licensing and regulation of massage therapy and
bodyworks in Massachusetts, in the aftermath of allegations that
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft paid for sex at a massage
parlor in Florida.

Healey, a Democrat, said she found the charges against Kraft to be
''deeply troubling and disturbing,'' and expressed confidence that
authorities would ''do their job'' in prosecuting the case.

Kraft is among hundreds of men accused as part of a crackdown on
prostitution allegedly occurring in massage parlors in Florida. He
faces two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution and has
denied wrongdoing.

Police said Kraft was videotaped in Jupiter, Florida, engaging in a
sex act on Jan. 19 then returned to the establishment the
following day before flying to the AFC championship game in Kansas
City.

Healey, who says her office has prosecuted dozens of sex
trafficking cases, is sponsoring a bill that would overhaul
rules and regulations for Massachusetts businesses that offer
massage therapy and bodyworks and sets a code of ethics for the
profession.

While state law already requires licensing of massage therapy, the
measure would close a loophole in state law by setting the same
requirements for those who run bodyworks facilities. The attorney
general's office cites several cases of operators advertising
themselves as ''bodyworks'' services to evade state licensing rules
and use the unregulated businesses for illegal human trafficking.

Bodywork therapists often use techniques such as cupping used to
relieve pain and increase blood flow, and approaches other than
massage to improve a person's overall physical and mental condition.

The measure filed prior to the Florida case involving Kraft, would
restructure a seven-member licensure board and would include one
member from law enforcement with a background in human trafficking
investigations.

''This is not a victimless crime,'' Healey said of prostitution
during her monthly ''Ask the AG'' program Tuesday on WGBH-FM. ''At
the other end there is always someone's mother, daughter, sister,
and they don't want to be there.''

In one recent case prosecuted by the state, Healey's office won
human trafficking and money laundering convictions against a
Medford woman accused of using massage parlors as fronts for human
trafficking, and of bringing women to the state to engage in
prostitution. Xiu Chen, 38, was sentenced in December to five years
in prison.

The attorney general and Kraft have worked together in the past on
issues related to sexual violence.

In 2015, Healey and the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation
partnered to launch Game Change, an educational program focused on
encouraging healthy relationships among adolescents and preventing
dating violence and sexual assault. She and Kraft hosted an annual
student leadership event for the program at Gillette Stadium last
October.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday said he was shocked and
disappointed to hear of the allegations against Kraft, while adding
that cracking down on sexual exploitation and trafficking has been
a high priority for his administration.

Baker, who attended the Patriots' Super Bowl victory in Atlanta
last month, declined to offer an opinion when asked if he thought
Kraft should step aside from direct control of the team.

''I think that's an issue for the Patriots and the NFL,'' he said.