Feb 222004
 
Authors: Jesse McLain

On the north end of Fort Collins is a quiet street, which is

home to a roller skating rink, a gentlemen’s club and a small

business called Choice Tan, which advertises its sauna and

massages.

However, many citizens may not know Link Lane’s Choice Tan was

the scene of a prostitution bust in August 2003.

Prostitution happens every day in Fort Collins, at least

according to some local law enforcement officials.

“It’s kept so discreet,” said Larimer County Sheriff Jim

Alderden. “I can tell you it’s all over Larimer County and the city

of Fort Collins.”

However authorities disagree as to where prostitution is a

problem.

“To be honest with you they’re not usually in Fort Collins,”

said Rita Davis, press information officer for Fort Collins Police

Services. “They usually happen in Larimer County, probably more

than we want to acknowledge.”

There are two basic types of prostitution that occur in Fort

Collins and Larimer County, according to Alderden.

“There are the escort services, and make no mistake about it,

those are all prostitutes,” Alderden said. “And massage

parlors.”

Mayor Ray Martinez said that he has seen no evidence to show

that prostitution is a problem.

“I haven’t heard any reports from the police to indicate I have

a reason to believe that it is a problem,” Martinez said. “But that

doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.”

Martinez may not be the only city official to not see much

evidence of prostitution in Fort Collins. The most recent

prostitution sting that District Attorney Stuart VanMeveren

remembered was 15 years ago.

“In the past 10 years we have probably only seen five or six

cases that have been brought to us,” VanMeveren said. “We just

haven’t seen very many cases in the courts.”

Two businesses were recently closed for prostitution, including

Choice Tan, which was closed in August of 2003. However just

because a business is closed doesn’t mean it stays shut down.

“One day you’ll close them down and the next day they reopen

under a different name or different ownership, with the same

employees” Alderden said. “Or they’ll just move the girls around

the state.”

Prostitution is a class 3 misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence

of six months in jail and a $750 fine. VanMeveren said prostitution

is also likely to be settled out of court, with offenders rarely

serving their full sentences, sometimes without any jail time.

“I hope I’m not being naive,” VanMeveren said. “I don’t think

it’s a bigger problem here than in (other) towns our size.”

Alderden said many times the community might disapprove of

measures taken in order to arrest someone for prostitution.

“When officers did try to go undercover some of the things that

went on caused an uproar in the community,” Alderden said.

“Officers had to engage in some touching and perhaps go back

multiple times.”

Alderden said many times prostitutes will make solicitors prove

they are not law enforcement by making them engage in acts or

disrobe completely.

“Prostitutes are getting smarter,” Alderden said. “It requires

manpower and money. With multiple visits you’re talking about

hundreds of dollars.”

Recent state legislation decisions have also made the financial

aspect of investigating prostitution difficult.

“We used to be able to seize their property and then sell it and

we would get that money,” Alderden said. “Now that money goes to

the state so it’s no longer financially possible.”

Residents of Fort Collins and Larimer County also may place a

higher priority on crimes other than prostitution.

“We just can’t try all the cases that come in. If we have three

domestic violence cases and one prostitution case we’re much more

likely to have a plea agreement in the prostitution case as opposed

to settling what we see as a more serious crime,” VanMeveren said.

“It’s not as high of a priority for law enforcement or for us.”

Whether the community is indifferent or oblivious, Alderden said

the existence of prostitution in Fort Collins and Larimer County is

undeniable.

“Our community just hasn’t expressed a concern, just because we

don’t have girls walking up and down the streets. No one in this

town wants to acknowledge that it is going on,” Alderden said. “I

think it goes on every day.”

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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