Sheriff Joe's investigators' nudity, sex contact dooms prostitution cases

Note Sheriff Joe implying going after PRIVATE prostitutes protects children. Where do people get these silly ideas? STD risk? With private adult prostitution legal in almost all the world except the U.S., there has never been any link to high STD risk. In fact probably far safer than picking up a women in a bar. Of course I am only referring to private sexworkers not street hookers.

Sheriff Joe's investigators' nudity, sex contact dooms prostitution cases
The Arizona Republic
Jun. 15, 2004 07:59 PM

About 60 people arrested last year in a prostitution sting will not be criminally charged because Maricopa County sheriff's deputies used tactics including nudity and sexual contact in their undercover operations, county prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Maricopa County prosecutors believe the two-month sting, which targeted suspected prostitutes and men accused of soliciting sex for money, was botched by sheriff's officials who allowed undercover deputies and department "Posse" members to remove their clothing and engage in sex acts on videotape.

"The credibility of the officers and the tactics they used are so abhorrent that we believe the likelihood of conviction has disappeared," special assistant county attorney Barnett Lotstein said. "At no time did our office ever, explicitly or implicitly, sign off on anything relating to the conduct that they employed."

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio pledged to forward the rejected cases to the U.S. Attorney's Office, hoping federal prosecutors will pursue criminal charges against the suspects.

In a hastily scheduled press conference, a visibly frustrated Arpaio defended his staffers, saying he believes they acted professionally and followed the law. Arpaio hinted that politics played a role in Tuesday's decision to reject the cases, but would not discuss a renewed strain on his relationship with Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley.

"I do my job, politics or no politics, and I'm going to continue to do my job, politics or no politics," Arpaio said. "My main mission is to protect the public, protect the kids. We're going to continue to do our jobs." The cases rejected by county prosecutors stem from arrests made between September and November last year during two investigations dubbed Operations "House Call" and "Destiny." Deputies targeted 33 homes and 10 massage parlors in "House Call," while "Destiny" was a sting operation out of three Valley hotels.

Among the suspects arrested were a local radio station's sales manager, a state corrections officer and a woman who billed herself as a former Miss Canada. Some of the women were tracked down after sheriff's investigators found suggestive ads in local publications.

The operations, which drew national attention, were criticized at the time by some community members, who believed devoting about 400 officers to such a low-level crime was a waste of resources.

But Arpaio remained defiant on Tuesday, saying prostitution endangers public safety and spreads sexually transmitted diseases. "What are we coming to?" Arpaio asked. "If you want prostitution, change the law, but don't go criticizing my officers who are trying to enforce the law under difficult circumstances."

Sheriff's Capt. Don Schneidmiller said county prosecutors took part in planning meetings and knew that deputies planned to remove clothing and possibly engage in "inadvertent" sexual touching. Schneidmiller, who raised his voice several times while discussing Tuesday's developments, described the prosecutors' decision as "ridiculous" and accused the county attorney's office of misrepresenting his operation. "I can't begin to tell you how offended I am by this," Schneidmiller said. "My guys were professional, they were responsible. I view this . . . as a slap in the face and I know my guys do too."

Lotstein insisted prosecutors were unaware of any plans for nudity and would not have condoned such tactics. "We did not sign off on nudity," Lotstein said.

David Dusenbury, a retired deputy chief of police who has lectured and taught vice investigations in California, said authorities who engage in sexual contact have committed a crime. "Oh my. That's not acceptable," Dusenbury said. "You just have to back away and figure out another way to skin the cat." If investigators had sexual contact with the women, "then what you have is vice officers actually engaged in prostitution," Dusenbury said. "Then you've committed a crime yourself."

Vice officers can make their cases in other ways than doing anything illegal, he said. Surveillance, questioning johns and having a known customer introduce the investigator are all widely acceptable ways of making prostitution collars, he said.

Dozens of the women arrested were unavailable for comment or didn't return messages on Tuesday. One of the women had a message on her cell phone asking callers to tell her which ad prompted them to call.
This was the lead story on ABC 15 News at 10 which was delayed till about 11pm.

Phoenix PD are known for doing the same thing that the Sheriff's possee did, so this publicity may help deter Phoenix from doing it in the future...perhaps....

BTW What Federal Charges they are seeking. There is no Federal prostitution law other than if import across state lines.

The only sad news is supposedly 20 cases not involving touching by cops may go forward.

East Valley Tribune Article

No charges coming after prostitution crackdown
First, the undercover officer handed the suspected prostitute $40. Then he undressed. There was dirty talk, kisses and a massage. Finally, the woman agreed to perform a sex act for an additional $100. The deal done, the woman should've been hauled off in handcuffs — the charge: Solicitation of prostitution, prosecutors say. Instead, the posse member continued playing his role for several more minutes, stopping just shy of intercourse.

Nearly 60 women arrested in November during a Maricopa County Sheriff's Office prostitution sting will not be prosecuted because the investigators went too far, the county attorney’s office announced Tuesday. More than 70 people were arrested Nov. 13 on suspicion of solicitation of prostitution or operating a house of prostitution as part of Operation House Call and Operation Destiny — touted as possibly the nation's largest single-day crackdown on the illicit sex trade.

Authorities said many of the women arrested were operating brothels out of middle-class homes and massage parlors throughout the Valley. More than 30 homes and 10 massage parlors were raided.

In announcing that the women would not be prosecuted, a news release from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office said, "the techniques utilized by the undercover sheriff's deputies and posse members undermines prosecution by reducing the likelihood of conviction."

Records detail instances in which deputies or posse members fondled the breasts and genitals of the women and allowed the women to touch their penises with their mouths and hands — all in the hopes of convincing the women they were not law enforcement officers. Officers going nude is unacceptable, said Barnett Lotstein, special assistant county attorney. Participating in sex acts is that much worse. "This behavior is not appropriate. We don't approve of it and we never authorized it. I want to make that clear," Lotstein said. "I have never read a report where a law enforcement or a representative went as far as these people did."

The sheriff's captain who organized the sting operation, however, said several prosecutors knew what tactics would be used. "They had full knowledge of our plan to be nude," said Capt. Don Schneidmiller. "We met with them right from the beginning and more than once. At no point did anybody, anybody, tell me ‘You don't want to do this.’ " Any touching that was done was initiated by the targets of the sting and there were "mechanisms in place to minimize it and put an end to it," Schneidmiller said. Schneidmiller declined to elaborate on what behavior was considered acceptable, noting that to do so would give prostitutes the ability to change their behavior accordingly. He did say, however, that the techniques employed by the posse members and deputies are "consistent" with those used elsewhere in the country. "I stand behind what my guys did," Schneidmiller said. "You can't be effective now by using what was used eight years ago. I think we're right on track. I'm proud of what we're doing. I have no regrets about any aspect of this operation."

As long as prostitution is against the law, the sheriff's office will continue to make arrests, said Sheriff Joe Arpaio. "I do my job, politics or no politics and I will continue to do my job, politics or no politics," Arpaio said. The decision not to prosecute had nothing to do with the sheriff's office, Lotstein said. In fact, many of the customers arrested during the sting operation have been prosecuted successfully because there were no credibility issues with those cases, Lotstein said. "This was a substantive issue, not a political issue," Lotstein said. "We would not prosecute any case from any agency using these tactics."

Dave says, I am confused, I previously understood that the clients cases were all dismissed based on entrapment.

The following has been sent to about 150 providers that are on the Phoenix Provider or Phoenix-Tucson Private List
May be of interest to others on trying to take advantage of a media opportunity

To Providers

Looking for any East Valley - Scottsdale, Mesa, Chandler, Tempe wanting to help with a media story - especially those involved in Sheriff Joe's busts

As you probably know, the story of Sheriff Joe's posse having too much fun with providers they busted resulted in the dismissal of most cases is once again creating a favorable public uproar. The Associated Press has run the stories that broke in the both the AZ Republic & East Valley Tribune. This morning the story is running in many newspapers around the U.S. I noted its in the Chicago Tribune for example. It also led many of the Phoenix 10pm news shows last night (Tuesday June 15th)

For those that have not seen the story I have both versions on the Private List Discussion board via xxxxxxxx. It's under the Phoenix-Tucson Legal issue Forum or the long direct link is xxxxxxx

The purpose of this special note is that we have an opportunity to take advantage of another media opportunity to get the public riled up over the antics of Sheriff Joe. Especially the sensitive issue of using law enforcement resources to chase breasts of consenting adult PRIVATE sexworkers, which is legal in most of the world except the U.S. WIth so much real crime, complaints about slow response to real crime by the Sheriff's office, and the zillions of unserved warrants for serious crimes that the Sheriff doesn't seem to have the manpower to serve, why is he so consumed about chasing victimless morality crimes. We even have the Lawrence Supreme Court case now that specifically says morality can not be a basis for laws. Sheriff Joe uses the totally preposterous excuse that somehow it helps children! How silly, but that is the best he can come up with other than he is just enforcing the law.

As most of you know, we had very favorable media coverage related to the now jailed rapist who attacked and choked to the point of passing out who was caught after I started working with the head of the Scottsdale sex crime unit and providers were assured there was no concern about their profession only catching a dangerous attacker. Providers came forward and say they were all treated with upmost dignity and respect.

The East Valley Tribune was especially interested and helpful in breaking the story and it was their contact that resulted in my TV news interview trying to show the risks just because of the legal situation and why its a waste of resources and encourages criminals to go after those that are not likely to report it to police. Unfortunately my longer interview got edited way down due to time considerations on the 10pm news.

Now the East Valley Tribune wants to do an expanded story especially interviewing providers from the East Valley who were part of Sheriff Joe's bust or were stalked by his posse even if not part of the bust. The reporter did talk to two providers months ago, who contacted me willing to be interviewed but I don't recall who they were and the reporter isn't sure she still has there contact info. The publishers decided not to run the story back then, since they could not get any comment from the Sheriff's office. But now with everything I and providers had told the reporters has come out from the County Attorney's office they want to run with it. Names of providers they interview will be protected and not used in the story.

I also suggested the angle about how many public dollars it cost to have I think it has been reported 400 people doing the undercover operations over 3 months to arrest the about 90 people whose cases are now being tossed. She had already thought of that angle and a information request for the information under the Public Records Act has already been filed by the newspaper.

I am willing to use my full name and will probably be quoted in the story from the interview I gave the reporter (Toni) today. If you were involved and are willing to be interviewed by a very friendly (female) reporter contact me for her name and phone at The two providers she talked to earlier this year were very helpful and showed her how normal private sexworkers are but she needs to re contact them and any others willing to participate in what should be a very favorable story for the private sexwork industry.

In the good discussion I had with Toni, in talking with her coworkers she constantly has to remind them it is not about street hookers, but private consenting adult sexworkers. Even Bill, co-founders of Liberated Christians heard the news report but immediately thought it was about street hookers and didn't pay much attention to it.

I am trying to get the story out that there are vast numbers of adult women who are not drugged out street hookers, don't have pimps, who enjoy that they do, were not abused as children etc...all the stereotypes that most of the public has about sexworkers, since all they think of is the public nuisance drugged out street hooker. Sheriff Joes victims were providers doing sexwork in private, as a legitimate choice by responsible, educated well adjusted women. This needs to get out to help public opinion support for decriminalization or at least not aggressively enforcing the victimless morality laws against private sexworkers at a huge cost to the public.

Dave's Phoenix-Tucson Private List
A Community Sharing Honest Reviews/Info Since 1996
Including Private Escorts Not Wanting to be on Public Sites
Letter to the Editor - Arizona Republic
The Naked Truth

I get upset when I read things like in the AZ Republic Editorial page saying that prostitution, "transmits disease and is often connected with other crimes, including drugs. In residential areas, prostitution is a blight that makes people fearful of their own neighborhoods."

This concern is often true about street hookers, but there is absolutely NO basis for such a statement about private sexworkers, such as Sheriff Joe targeted from newspaper ads. I would bet the incidence of STD's is far lower among professional sexworkers who most always use condoms, than the general population their age (typically 20-30s). There is very low drug use and private sexworkers are totally unseen in a neighborhood so how can they be a blight and make people fearful. We need to make a clear distinction between public nuisance, often drugged out street hookers with a pimp, vs the private sexworker who should be empowered to be have her own private sexwork business conducted safely with dignity as in past times and in most of the world without the risk of police stings and harassment.

I am far more fearful of the religious right and their attempt to impose through victimless morality laws, their agendas which have no biblical basis. Common prostitutes often mentioned in the bible with no negative connotations. It was only the sex goddess prostitutes in the temples of Corinth worshiping the fertility gods that was the sin- idolatry not sexuality. In biblical times a man could have as many wives and concubines as he could afford and it was never wrong, just as there was nothing wrong with common prostitutes.

Private sexwork is legal in almost all the world except the U.S., with no reports of any STD or drug issues in most countries. Sexworkers provide a valuable service in a culture and by having legitimate safe sexual options I suggest they reduce violence, reduce sexual harassment and other behavior that is normal if people do not have opportunities for needed sexual release and expression.

We only have to look North to Canada where private prostitution as in England and most of the world has always been legal. They have unreasonable incall (bawdy house) restrictions but outcall (to the clients place) has always been legal again, as it is in most of the civilized world. Or to the South in Mexico where there are zones of tolerance even for public street prostitution.

The waste of public resources to go after private sexwork who provide a healthy needed service is a disgrace when there are so many unsolved real crimes with real victims not just laws dictated by the religious right agenda having to force people to their suppressive views by laws since folks will not follow their views that repress healthy. safe sexuality.

Dave in Phoenix

From outside AZ comments on a public board which may also reflect the views of many in Phoenix:

"Can't believe this idiot spent all that time, money and manpower (400 officers!?) on a two month undercover sting when he could have spent the resources on curbing steet prostitution, drugs, violent crimes and crimes against property. What a retard!"

Back to the Sexwork Main Menu