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
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
“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
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
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
Alderden said many times prostitutes will make solicitors prove
they are not law enforcement by making them engage in acts or
“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
“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.”