The ads filling Internet classified sites promise companionship, sex and pleasure — for a price. Hidden in plain sight among them, police are sending their own message: if you come to Dayton to buy sex, you're going to get arrested.
Between July 17 and Aug. 3 the police Street Crimes Unit completed prostitution stings resulting in 23 arrests, 20 of which involved soliciting of a prostitute. The majority of the men arrested did not live in Dayton.
Among those arrested were an Air Force lieutenant colonel, a Dayton Better Business Bureau director, a Central State University professor and the 18-year-old son of a Dayton police officer..
It was part of National Day of Johns Arrests, coordinated sex-sting operations between the FBI and 26 law enforcement agencies in 15 states. The last operation, in February, netted 373 arrests nationally. Then, Dayton police arrested five pimps and sex traffickers, the most of any agency. Final numbers for the July sting are being tallied.
The newspaper observed officers work undercover for three days as detectives used online ads to offer "body rubs" in exchange for donations. Those responding met the girls at an apartment staged for the operation and agreed to a sex act for money prior to their arrest. Officers arrested 15men from that.
Variety of arrests
Lt. Col. Michael Nelson, 43, told the undercover officer that he was an employee at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base recently transferred to the area from Florida to take over as commander of a unit, a move that comes with a promotion to the rank of colonel. A base spokesman confirmed Nelson is assigned to the base, and "Air Force officials are aware of the incident and are looking into the matter."
John Manes, 55, wore a "Better Business Bureau" polo and allegedly sought a "lunch-time special." He told the undercover officer he wanted to spend an hour with her, placing $100 on the table. When the officer asked him what he wanted to do, he said, "let's get undressed and see what happens."
He later stated, "I'm just going to go. This just doesn't seem right," grabbing the money and leaving the apartment. Detectives later issued a summons for his arrest for soliciting a prostitute.
Sheri Sword, BBB vice president of communications, said, that "as a matter of policy, your BBB does not discuss internal employment issues."
Joe Pence Jr. offered $30 in exchange for sex after responding to an online ad. Officers identified him as the son of a Dayton officer.
Yuegen David Yu, 54, is an assistant history professor at Central State. He was arrested July 21 for attempting to pick up a prostitute played by an undercover officer, according to an incident report.
Gayle Colston Barge, CSU's director of public relations, said she learned of Yu's arrest Monday when she was contacted by a reporter. She said Yu's arrest is not associated with the university, and the school would wait for Dayton police to complete their investigation.
Targeting "johns," the men who purchase sex on the streets or via Internet ads, stops the flow of money into the sex trade. Many of the prostitutes sell themselves to feed their drug addiction, or are pressured to do so by a pimp. An estimated 80 percent of the women in Dayton's sex trade are addicted to drugs, mostly heroin, according to Dayton police.
During the sting, Riccardo Diggs, 37, of Dayton, attempted to purchase sex from an undercover officer using crack-cocaine as payment. He was charged with felony drug trafficking and soliciting charges.
A man brought a pizza to the undercover officer as well as cash in exchange for sex. Lynn Arnett, 63, was arrested for soliciting a prostitute and possession of criminal tools.
Prostitutes tend to come from lower-income households, but customers come from "all walks of life," and often an arrest can dissuade them of further criminal behavior, said Lt. Joe Weisman, commander of the police street crimes unit. Those charged have to pay bond, court costs, and pay to attend the John School.
Undercover officers said they observed Quinton Dyer of Dayton rob an autistic 12-year-old of his bike. He was charged with felony assault on an officer after he struck officers during his arrest. Dyer was charged with felony robbery, obstructing official business and resisting arrest.
Weisman said every arrest makes a difference.
"Hopefully it sends a message that if you do come to Dayton and you do solicit a prostitute, you are going to be arrested," he said.