Sex sting yields 6 arrests

Internet helps cops foil summer hotel encounters

Oct. 13, 2010

Two prostitutes and four men looking for a good time were arrested after unknowingly making arrangements to meet a Wauwatosa police officer for paid sex at a local hotel this summer.

Details of the arrests were made public this week and highlight an ongoing effort by Wauwatosa police officers curtail the sex trade and the other crimes - assault, drug use, robbery - that tend to go along with it.

"It's a problem for all hotels," Wauwatosa police Capt. Jeff Sutter said. "We would like to see it become less convenient for (prostitutes) to do business here."

Wauwatosa does several stings each year to combat prostitution in the city. Officers keep tabs on activity, mostly via the Internet, and when they see a surge of people responding to online sex ads they know it's time for another round of arrests.

"We'll get short-term progress," Sutter said. "If effective, people won't come here. There won't be any activity when there is an ad placed."

Targeting shame

The department's Special Operations Group has determined efforts prove more successful if they go after the clients as well as the prostitutes and pimps.

"There's shame involved with a 'soliciting for prostitution' on a record," Municipal Judge Richard Baker said.

"People are pretty embarrassed, but I tell them that's how it goes. We don't want that in Wauwatosa. That's not good for the community," he added.

In most cases people arrested for soliciting a prostitute end up in municipal court and, if found guilty, end up paying a fine. But lack of cooperation, a prior arrest record or involvement in other crimes could bring stiffer penalties.

If the word gets out that police are cracking down on people who pay for sex in Wauwatosa, then, potentially, the market might dry up and prostitutes would have to look elsewhere for work, Sutter said.

Officers could go to just about any hotel in the country and find prostitution happening, but in the Milwaukee area Wauwatosa happens to be centrally located, making it an especially convenient place to meet up, he said.

During the most recent sting, July 19, officers placed online ads. In a short time, they were fielding calls and setting up morning and lunch-hour appointments.

The cases

According to police reports:

The first arrest came just after 10:30 a.m., when a 28-year-old man from Milwaukee, showed up. He eventually told officers he had moved from California and was experiencing "a dry spell with women" so he went online looking for prostitutes.

Up next was a 42-year-old man from Ixonia, who was looking online for a woman "to spend some time with," and he said he arrived at the hotel expecting nothing more than a massage at 12:02 p.m.

Within minutes, a 44-year-old New Berlin man showed up. As he was arrested he told police he just wanted to talk to the woman, but officers questioned why he needed to undo his belt and open his pants to hold a conversation. He went on to admit similar dealings with prostitutes in the past and was worried that if word got out it would prevent him from running for elected office in the future.

The activity continued in the afternoon. A 53-year-old from Milwaukee couldn't get to the bank before his appointment at 1:30 p.m. So he promised to write a check for $1,500 if he could get two hours of "full-service."

The clients weren't the only ones to get in trouble during the police sting. Officers arrested a few sex workers as well.

An 18-year-old Waukesha woman and a 20-year-old West Allis woman were arrested for prostitution. Officers had found their ads online and called to set up appointments at the same hotel.

The West Allis woman and her friend, a 21-year-old Milwaukee woman who was waiting in the parking lot, also were picked up for drug possession. They had OxyContin, Xanax and marijuana.

While a couple of these cases are pending, most of the people have been found guilty. NOW is not naming them because many become informants who help police. Also, because the police set up the sting at the hotel, they have asked that NOW not single it out by disclosing the location.


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