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Court orders evaluation in prostitution case

Suzy Woo-Young Kotts

Outside a St. Louis County courtroom on Wednesday, the former owner of Yoshiko Sauna in Duluth said she has been wrongly accused of promoting prostitution at her former business.

Inside, defense attorney David Keegan asked the court to order a competency evaluation to determine his client's ability to comprehend the nature of the charge against her, as well as her ability to communicate properly with her counsel during future court proceedings. Judge Mark Munger granted Keegan's request.

Suzy Woo-Young Kotts, 73, with addresses in Superior and Prior Lake, Minn., is charged with solicitation, inducement or promotion of prostitution. The business was closed in January because it didn't have a license to operate a sauna or any other kind of business, Duluth police said.

According to court records, Kotts has prior prostitution convictions in Hennepin County in 1989 and 1991.

On Jan. 7, two police investigators interviewed Kotts. According to the criminal complaint, she told them she had owned the Yoshiko Sauna for about 16 years. She said she was making about $5,000 a month from it. She said that about 30 different women who came from other states worked at the sauna in the past year. She denied that she got half of each woman's $200 fee. She said she got whatever the women put in her safe.

Police said Kotts stated there "are no more whorehouses in the area" now that hers has been shut down.

Kotts was accompanied in court Wednesday by a Korean interpreter to ensure that she understood the proceedings. Outside the courtroom, Kotts said she came to this country from Korea in 1966.

"It's not fair to be a felony case,'' Kotts said. "I wasn't working there at the time. I wasn't the owner. I wasn't paying the taxes at that time.''

She provided a reporter a copy of a document that she said was the bill of sale for the 18 N. 21st Ave. W. business on a $75,000 contract for deed on Aug, 18, 2008, six months before the charge was brought against her. The document is notarized and witnessed by someone in Missouri City, Texas.

However, according to St. Louis County property records, Kotts sold the property on Feb. 17, a week after the charge was brought against her.

Kotts' "bill of sale'' document lists Sun Hui Glenn as the buyer. Glenn was charged with solicitation of prostitution after police executed a search warrant at the sauna on Dec. 23. Glenn told police she is from Korea but came to Duluth from California about two months earlier. She said Kotts owned the sauna and hired her to clean. She said she had seen young girls work there as prostitutes but that she had retired from prostitution.

Glenn pleaded not guilty but failed to appear for a court appearance and a warrant has been issued for her arrest.