As we near Thanksgiving, we look around for reasons to be thankful. True, economic times are tough and getting tougher. However, it would appear that all the violent crimes and drug dealing in Lynn, Massachusetts, has been stopped. No more guns rape, robbery or murder. It would appear that even the drunk driving problem is under control.
Now, the police have the time and resources to concentrate on other vicious crimes plaguing our society.
Prostitution, for example.
This past Saturday, a well timed police prostitution sting was said to be different than others done in the recent past. According to the Lynn Item, it was conducted in “broad daylight”.
No pun intended, I’m sure.
“For the city of Lynn, unfortunately, it’s a 24/7 problem,” said Sgt. Rick Carrow of the world’s oldest profession. He is the head of the department’s Special Investigation Unit that conducted the operation between 1 and 4 p.m. Saturday, netting nine arrests of would-be customers.
“There’s a market out there and we’re going to do what we have to do,” he said. And so they did.
Twenty-four-year-old Officer Kelly Aylward was the undercover decoy during the operation conducted in the downtown area, according to Carrow. The targets of this brilliantly conceived plan was to have an attractive female see if she could get men to want to have sex with her and be willing to pay for it.
Due, I’m sure, to her professionalism, training and expertise, the officer was able to snag and bring charges against nine men.
“We have asked our Special Investigations Unit to continue to run these John Law operations on a regular basis to address neighborhood concerns of street level prostitution,” Police Chief Suslak said. “I would ask that any suspected activity be reported to us immediately.”
The plague of prostitution is a quality of life issue according to law enforcement. Further, the sting is also apparently aimed at protecting the potential customer, or “johns” such as the ones now facing charges at Lynn District Court. According to the Chief, such stings are actually designed to help the potential john. For example, he explains, they help reduce the likelihood of a john getting robbed by a prostitute or her pimp. After all, several of the men arrested were found holding large amounts of cash, police said.
“They’re targets,” Carrow said. “It’s so simple to get robbed by the girls, their male associates or both.”
He says oftentimes a john-turned-robbery victim will file a false police report about what happened to the stolen money, especially if the suspect’s wife is wondering where it went.
“You certainly can’t go home and relay that story,” he said.
The sympathetic Sgt. apparently had no opinion to offer as to going home to relay the story of now being re-named “defendant” in a couple of days.
Police Chief John Suslak says officers will continue their effort to eradicate prostitution activity.
These efforts have been regular happenings in Lynn. Earlier this month, a total of six men and two women were arrested in an undercover prostitution sting in the early morning hours. This sting operation yielded the arrests of both alleged hookers and johns.
According to Lynn Police Sgt. Richard Carrow, prostitution in the downtown section of the city is an ever-increasing problem that police deal with on a daily basis.
While law the police department keeps talking about “street level” prostitution, it would appear that such investigations are limited to “terra firma”.
“We’ve made a couple of arrests in the past through Craigslist, but I would say we encounter an equal amount of street level prostitution as well as Craigslist prostitution,” explained the police spokesman.
Craigslist, a popular free online community available in nearly 300 countries worldwide, allows people to post sexual messages on its site in its “erotic services” section.
Those postings, according to Carrow have, in essence, allowed the scourge of prostitution to thrive.
While stings are typically conducted every few months, Carrow said budget constraints have unfortunately affected the number police are able to carry out.
“It’s important to conduct these stings because it’s a domino effect really,” he said. “Unfortunately greed comes into play sometimes and there is a market for it.”
Lynn is not the only town suffering from this blight on humanity. Recently, in Natick, intrepid police work yielded a Cambridge woman offering the “Best Oriental Massage with Sweetie Asian,” who was actually willing to go that extra mile to make it extra special.
In other words, she is alleged to be a prostitute who “wanted money for sexual favors”, police said.
She was arrested Monday.
This sting operation involved a male undercover officer. The detective work was inspired by a suspicion by the police that Yu F., 43, (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) had listed her massage advertisement on Craigslist, listed under erotic services for sordid reasons. The undercover officer bravely undertook the mission to answer the ad. While posing as a customer, the undercover detective was allegedly approached by the Defendant who made a “sexual offer” to him in a hotel room.,
The arrest apparently went down quietly and nobody was hurt.
By the way, The ad listed which brought the Defendant to law enforcement attention listed the 43-year-old Defendant as a 23-year-old woman looking for a man and offering a massage.
No charges have yet been brought for the fraudulent advertising.
With all the concern about street-level drugs, guns and death, one might imagine that the attention of law enforcement has been diverted from the sex trade.
One would be wrong.
Obviously, one very vital concern is for underage participants in the trade – both willing and unwilling. However, it does not end there.
Investigations regarding all sex for money transactions still exist. Further, as the trade moves from the street and onto the internet, law enforcement has followed. Finally, while certain such physical entertainment is not specifically listed in the statutes of Massachusetts, there are arguments that can be made to include them in what is prohibited. Unfortunately, the laws regarding this activity are somewhat vague.
The belief that the police are not interested in prosecuting prostitutes so long as they are “not on the street” is faulty. Massage listings are investigated as well as whatever else may be suspect as leading to crossing the sexual line.
There has also been a change in the law of late in terms of who gets prosecuted. In the past, it was the seller who would be prosecuted and not the buyer. This has changed. As listed in the above stories, the “johns” are now also prosecuted. I have chosen, however, unlike the local papers, to refrain from publishing the list of would-be buyers.
One might debate whether this is the appropriate way to handle the industry, or whether it would be more effective to legalize prostitution and regulate it as do places like Las Vegas or other countries. The fact is, however, that this is reality in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for now.
Do not be fooled by what may be your own sense of what should or should not be legal. When the laws change about possession of marihuana, they do not change for all perceived victimless crimes. Offering either end of the “sex for money” transaction is illegal and dutifully investigated.
Of course, most of these alleged transactions take place in a private setting between two people, which means one can be accused by one person with no additional evidence. As a result, prostitution is another crime through which the attention of the system can be upon you due to a report of the disgruntled.
If you find yourself caught up in the web of a prostitution sting, or suspect that you may be under investigation for same, I suggest you take it seriously. Consult an experienced defense attorney. Be sure you understand your rights and that you have someone on your side who can protect them.
Samuel Goldberg is the senior criminal defense attorney at the firm of Altman & Altman, LLP. A former prosecutor in New York, he has worked as a Boston defense attorney over 18 years. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network.
The full articles of this story can be found at http://www.itemlive.com/articles/2008/11/24/news/news07.txt , http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/news/x181174806/Prostitute-posts-massage-ad-Natick-police-say, , and http://www.thedailyitemoflynn.com/articles/2008/11/08/news/news03.txt