December 17, 2013
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested a total of 80 people, including an elementary school teacher, a lawyer and a 16-year-old girl in a several-day undercover sting targeting prostitution.
Detectives in Polk County apparently placed and answered online prostitution ads starting Thursday and continuing through Sunday. By the end of the undercover bust, 24 men were arrested for soliciting sex from others, 33 people were arrested for prostitution, 13 people were charged with aiding prostitutes and 10 others were arrested on various charges.
One of the men arrested, a 47-year-old attorney, is accused of travelling to an undercover location to have a “girlfriend experience” in exchange for money. The Sheriff’s Office alleges that the man attempted to conduct a “pat down,” stating that he usually pats the girl down in case she is wearing a wire.
A 16-year-old Orlando girl was also arrested in the sting operation. Police believe the girl is a victim of human trafficking.
A 50-year-old special education teacher in Lake County was also among those arrested.
A 32-year-old Florida Department of Corrections probation officer from Lakeland was also detained in the bust as well as a 50-year-old Lakeland man who was arrested during two previous Polk County prostitution operations.
A 30-year-old woman and 43-year-old man, both of St. Petersburg, apparently arrived at the undercover house with a toddler, according to police.
Prostitution has changed over the past decade, and with such technological advancements, prostitution has been able to shift its presence from the streets to the Internet. Various websites, such as Craigslist, BackPage and BodyRubList make it very easy for people to advertise sexual services online, including police who are conducting undercover prostitution stings. Police will often respond to ads placed on these sites and post false advertisements on these same sites offering sexual favors for money. Once a person contacts the number or e-mail address listed on the ad, undercover detectives will give the person a location to meet at. Once they arrive at the designated location, the undercover officer will engage in conversation with the person to uncover exactly what they are looking for. Once a payment is made in exchange for sex, the crime of prostitution has been committed and the undercover officer will give the arrest signal.
If you have been arrested in a prostitution sting operation in Bartow, Lakeland, Winter Haven, Lake Wales, Haines City or Auburndale, A Polk County Prostitution Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can guide you through the legal system and ensure that you have the strongest defense possible. This includes challenging all of the State’s evidence against you. As former prosecutors we are more than familiar with the laws involving entrapment. We can help you if you were the unfortunate victim of any police misconduct. For a free initial consultation, please contact us today online or call 866-608-5529.