Ken Adler, of Chevy Chase, is a bit stressed out.
Adler, the owner of Stress Reduction Center Inc. on I Street NW, was at home last week when his office assistant phoned to say clients had been calling. What, they wanted to know, was all this about the center being raided by the police?
After some fast inquiries, the puzzled Adler -- whose office was open for business as usual all week -- discovered what the clients were talking about: Wednesday, officers had raided a business in Northeast Washington called Stress Reduction Center and had arrested four people as part of a regional investigation into prostitution and money-laundering.
Adler, a former federal worker and University of Chicago professor, offers massage therapy and stress-management counseling in his I Street practice, mostly to white-collar professionals. But he was hard-pressed to convince his clients that his company had nothing to do with the alleged brothel across town.
"One woman had ordered a gift certificate for a massage for Christmas, and she wasn't sure she wanted to go through with it because she thought we might be connected," Adler said. "People are concerned."
He said no other District business was named Stress Reduction Center when he incorporated his practice in 1980, and he said he would take legal action to force the Northeast operation to get a new name if Wednesday's raid has not shut it down completely.
"We are incorporated, and no one else is supposed to use that name," Adler said.
The annoyance of last week's events is just one of the hazards in operating a massage-therapy practice, Adler said. He said that although he is registered as a massage therapist with the American Massage Therapy Association and is president of the group's Maryland chapter, people often associate his work with seamier professions.
"In the yellow pages under 'massage,' there are these large half-page ads that say, 'Massage, pretty girls, complete privacy,' " Adler complained. "It took us several years before we could get a separate listing for massage therapy."