During the past several months, we have noticed an increase in the number
of South Carolina communities that are operating
prostitution stings. These stings may be designed to arrest either the customer (or
john) or the prostitute (or escort). Prostitution stings have recently
been conducted by police officers with the town of Springdale (Lexington
County), Richland County, Florence County, Greenville (city and county),
and Orangeburg County. Most stings seem to follow a common protocol.
The police will rent out adjoining motel rooms (there is usually a door
connecting the rooms). They will then place advertisements on the Internet
under the escort or adult services category. When the men call off the
ad, they are invited to come to the hotel room for "incall"
services. When the man arrives, he will meet a police officer who is pretending
to be a prostitute. Usually there is some discussion about money. Other
police will be monitoring everything from hidden wireless microphones.
When the police feel like they have enough evidence, they will come rushing
into the room and arrest the man.
When the police are trying to arrest women, they will call off ads in the
escort or adult services department and request "outcall" service
and try to get the woman to meet them at the motel room. When she arrives,
she will meet a man pretending to be interested in hiring her for sex.
Then she will be arrested and charged with solicitation.
Other commonalities we are seeing include the following:
- Police run adds stating that law enforcement should not attempt to contact them
- When asked, police deny being law enforcement
- Police are not always confirming that there was an actual agreement for
money in exchange for sex (a requirement for any prostitution or solicitation case)
- Miranda advisements may not be given at all or may be given incorrectly
- Callers responding to an advertisement for escort services may be pressured
into making a money-for-sex deal, creating a potential for an entrapment defense
Something notable about these cases is that the police seem to always immediately
notify the media whenever they have a sting. The names and photographs
of people arrested are printed in the newspaper and shown on television.
This is done without regard to the presumption of innocence that should
apply, and can recklessly endanger the employment or family situation
for those charged.