Police Sting Nets Would-Be Prostitute Customers

Published: Jun. 13, 2003 at 8:43 PM EDT|Updated: May. 4, 2004 at 10:50 AM EDT
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By Craig Hoffman

(LOUISVILLE, June 13th, 2003, 6 p.m.) -- Undercover police set up a prostitution sting Friday, using cops posing as prostitutes as the bait, and officers say the fish were definitely biting. As part of the ongoing investigation into street level prostitution, this "reverse sting" focused not on prostitutes but on those people willing to pay for sex. WAVE 3's Craig Hoffman was there.

One by one, police arrested suspects offering to buy sex from undercover officers. Police believe one suspect is a former UofL football player. Louisville Metro Police Detective Sgt. Kevin Thompson says "he offered the undercover officer $25 for oral sex. She directed him where to go, and we picked him up.

Police say similar reverse stings -- with cops posing as hookers are under way citywide. During Friday's round of arrests, police nabbed a 21-year-old celebrating his birthday with his uncle, an ex-convict. Police say the older suspect wanted to give his nephew a special gift.

Police arrested suspects of all ages, including a 16-year-old who offered an undercover officer $3 for sex.

Another suspect had his 9mm gun confiscated after offering to pay $15 for sex. And Officer Robert Kaelin says that arrest alone makes such low-level street busts worthwhile. "It's an officer safety issue -- it's another gun off the streets. It shows there are guns out here."

Police began stepping up undercover surveillance just before the end of the school year after word got out that prostitutes were working on 17th Street in front of Wheatley Elementary.

Lt. Richard Pearson says prostitutes often sell their bodies for money to buy drugs. "They're not going to stop because they got drug problems. As long as they got the drug problem, they're going to be prostituting to support it."

Police are arresting people from all walks of life, and from both sides of the river.

Lt. Pearson says people wanting street sex have more to fear than being busted by police. "There are at least two I know right off the top of my head who have full blown HIV, or full blown AIDS I should say."

Police arrested more than a dozen suspects during Friday's sting. They could face up to 90 days in jail if convicted.

Online Reporter: Craig Hoffman

Online Producer: Michael Dever