Nine women were forced into prostitution at the Blue House lounge, and each of them has a story.
Blue House was a brothel that masqueraded as a karaoke lounge in Tamuning for four years. The brothel was shut down by a police raid in 2008, but the local court case — which now includes allegations against three police officers — continues today.
On the night of the police raid, some of the Blue House victims gave written statements to officers at the Tumon precinct. Later, other victims gave longer statements, which were folded into the Blue House case in the District Court of Guam.
Some of those statements describe how the women were lured from Chuuk. Others talk about how it took the women a few nights to realize what the Blue House lounge really was. Most of the statements explain that the women were trapped and powerless.
“And I did it because they forced me,” wrote one victim, who was 21 when she began to work at the Blue House lounge. “… I also did it feeling painfully and tortured. (The Blue House owner) said that I cannot run away because she would call the police. Then I myself have sexual intercourse with 12 men in the (VIP) room. Then I kept on crying because they said I can’t go see my relative’s home.”
‘I got really scared’
In her written statement, the Blue House victim wrote that she was the daughter of a minister in Chuuk.
Life was hard but happy in Chuuk, she wrote. But in 2007, she and her cousin decided to leave their home island after they were promised work in a restaurant in Guam.
Soon the cousins were in the Guam airport, where some people they didn’t know took away their passports and drove them to their new home. At Blue House, the women met Song Ja Cha, the owner of the lounge, who was called “mamasan” or “mamasang” by her workers.
After seeing the lounge, the women from Chuuk immediately wanted to return home, according to the written statement. In response, Cha said they would have to pay for passports and tickets to return home, so the cousins started working as waitresses at Blue House, not yet realizing the bar was a brothel.
For the first few nights, the 21-year-old victim didn’t know what the private rooms were for, she wrote.
“I got really scared when I understood what the small rooms were for but I didn’t even realize at that time … that I would have to have sex with the customers,” the victim wrote in her statement. “I was thinking that I should tell (my cousin) that we should run away but I couldn’t tell her because I saw there were people keeping their eyes on us and if they found out what we were talking about they would tell mamasang.”
After four nights of working at the lounge, Cha told the young woman to get drunk so she could “have a customer,” according to the victim statement. The woman obeyed, and later that night had sex for the first time with a Blue House customer.
The victim said she “got really sick” after.
“I did not work for two weeks because I believe I was gonna die. I just stayed in my room at the back of the bar,” the victim wrote in her statement. “At first mamasan seemed nice to me but then she would start scolding me again and tell me I’m just lying.”
This victim wrote one of the most detailed accounts of what happened at Blue House — but she isn’t alone.
‘I believed her words’
Federal prosecutors have said that Cha routinely would threaten her victims with arrest if they didn’t follow her orders. The women believed these threats because police officers frequented the lounge, said Jared Fishman, a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice.
One of the other victims’ statements shows that Cha’s threats were powerful.
“She told me that if I leave work that night she would call for the police to look for me and arrest me then put me in jail,” wrote another victim, who was 23 at the time of the police raid. “I believed her words and I was scared of being arrested and so I stayed and do as I was told to do, I went and sat with customers.”
This victim also grew up in Chuuk, dreaming of becoming a doctor in the United States, according to her written statement. She also was lured to Guam by the promise of a high-paying job at a restaurant, according to her statement.
This woman came to Guam in March 2004. She worked at the Blue House for more than three years, but never got paid more than $100 to $300 per month, she wrote. The woman wrote that she had to resort to stealing bar chasers to eat.
The Blue House victims worked an average of 74 hours a week, without overtime, according to federal court documents.
“My first pay after one month of working was $300,” the victim wrote. “Mamasang showed me a paper showing that I earned $1,000 but after deductions my pay came down to $300 only. She explained that the deductions are for my airline ticket … for my birth certificate, departure fee, for sleeping while on the job, for being late to work, for speaking Chuukese, for eating chasers, for using too much toilet tissue, for using toothpicks, for use of shampoo, for using the phone …”
‘I did it and I cried’
These victim statements add a personal side to the allegations in the ongoing Blue House case, but they also provide a peek into the daily operations at the brothel.
There were six private rooms at the Blue House, according to federal prosecutors.
About 40 to 50 men went into the private rooms every night, wrote one victim, who worked at the Blue House lounge for about two months before the police raid.
“Then for myself about 10 to 20 men they force me to have sexual intercourse,” the victim wrote. “I did it and I cried and if I didn’t do it then they go out and complain then mamasang gets mad then she told me to get back. Then we are usually locked up in Blue House we cannot talk to our relatives then. Now I am happy I am relieved from torture.”
The five suspects in the Blue House case are expected to go to trial in the Superior Court of Guam in January. Several motions to dismiss the case are pending, and lengthy legal arguments are scheduled for Dec. 24.