Please purchase a subscription to read our premium content. Craigslist, a popular online classifieds site, announced last week that the site's much-maligned "erotic services" section will be removed and replaced with an adult services section monitored by employees to prevent prostitution and pornography.
Pressure to remove the category increased this spring after a Boston medical student was charged with killing a masseuse who authorities say he met through Craigslist. The Craigslist announcement made national headlines, but the move is likely to bring only a temporary change to the so-called "world's oldest profession.
Rick Miller prosecutes Bell County's misdemeanor prostitution cases. He supports Craigslist's decision. Miller thinks no online service should make it as easy to commit a crime and as hard to prosecute as Craigslist has done for prostitution. What has been advertised on street corners, then in newspapers, classified and even the Yellow s will find a way to carry on, said Mike Gentry, Harker Heights police chief. Bell County, specifically Killeen, has tried to turn the lights out on the ladies of the "red-light district" for the last 30 years.
It was the center of prostitution. It was a circus," Miller said.
Since then, prostitution was raised from a Class C misdemeanor to a Class B misdemeanor. Killeen changed as a result, Miller said.
Prostitution cases, but not prostitution, have declined since Miller became county attorney inhe estimates. Police target prostitution less frequently with only occasional stings, he said. Miller said prostitution is not a cost-effective crime. Cases are time-consuming for officer-strapped departments, difficult to prove and may get media attention — as a Babe's strip club raid in Nolanville did last year — but pale in benefit to other crimes. Gentry said Craigslist prostitution is not something officers track, but they do enforce prostitution laws when they receive reports.
Temple police do not track online prostitution, and they don't have a cyber crime unit to do so, Sgt. Brad Hunt said. Most prostitutes operate on the streets and are arrested through stings. One "exotic" masseuse urged in a Tuesday posting that her Craigslist clients save her phone or visit her Back.
Nobody really wants to call. Everybody is worried about being set up," she said. Jessica, also, has already switched to Back. She said she primarily used Craigslist to post schedules and contacts for existing clients, rarely to attract new clients. Love said that since when she worked in Austin, Craigslist has been her primary source of income.
They have pimps out there.
They give their money away or do drugs," Love said. Jessica and Love said they have established clienteles. They do not anticipate they will end up on the street or expect a loss of income. They said prostitutes on the streets end up there because of drug addiction.
These prostitutes will not be on Craigslist anymore, they said, but they will find another avenue to advertise, until law enforcement moves them to a new Internet street corner.
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That news is good news for Jessica, but she and other prostitutes are worried. Those women will return to the streets when Craigslist changes, she said. Today's e-Edition.
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