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THAILAND - Dec 13, 2002

Two years ago, the Colony Sauna in Bangkok was raided by a posse of police and television crews with cameras blazing. The raid, headed by MP Pavina Hongsakul, had been hastily organized following an anonymous tip-off that a sex orgy with children was being held for foreigners who had flown in especially for the event.

Instead, they found a birthday party being enjoyed by some of Bangkok's most distinguished gay residents, including Thai and foreign TV personalities and businessmen. Law inforcement officers who searched the private men's facility found that no children were present, although one masseur was rumoured to be an off-duty cop. Thai media photographed law-abiding adults inside the sauna's private rooms and subsequently published pictures and outrageous accusations despite the fact that no charges had been brought against any of the guests. Colony Sauna, popular with neighborhood Thai patrons, went out of business as a result of the negative publicity.

The expat whose birthday party was being celebrated was acquitted of all charges following trial. However, a 26-year-old Thai man, the registered owner of the sauna, was found guilty of pandering and given a surprisingly harsh sentence of five years in jail.


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