SEATTLE - More than 100 people were arrested for patronizing a prostitute last week, when police set up a fake massage parlor on Aurora Ave North, according to a business owner next door.
From June 24 through July 1, Seattle police arrested 139 people for sexual exploitation, a misdemeanor.”
One juvenile male was arrested for sexual exploitation and resisting arrest and released to the custody of his father. Among the men arrested, one was a convicted child molester, a formerly registered sex offender, a man who had methamphetamine on him, and a man who brought a firearm, knife and handcuffs to the location.
One of the men detained was also arrested in the 2016 sting.The business owner told KIRO 7 she witnessed dozens of men, from all walks of life, approaching the building. She then watched as many of them were handcuffed at the back of the building and put into police vans.
Lillian Taylor said she leases two buildings in the 11700 block of Aurora Avenue North. The two buildings are part of her start-up incubator business, where she helps people get funding and start their small businesses. While she works out of one building, she is currently renovating the other.
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She said she noticed some men standing in front of that vacant building one day and asked them what they were doing.
“They were really hesitant to tell me. I was like ‘Geez, these guys are shady.’ And they finally explained what they were doing and showed me his badge,” she said.
She learned that Seattle police were starting a sting operation, in which they would set up a fake massage parlor. A similar sting last July involved an online ad for sex, which brought dozens of men to a fake parlor in the Roosevelt neighborhood.
Last week, during the Aurora Avenue sting, Taylor said she overheard conversations in which men would explicitly offer money for sex.
From Monday through Saturday, KIRO 7 counted 240 arrests for patronizing a prostitute, in the same block.
“You would be surprised!” she said. “I expected to see a really low bar element, and it wasn’t.”
KIRO 7 has been following the city’s efforts to target the demand for prostitution.
While Taylor said she did not see any prostitutes working for this sting, she does occasionally come across prostitutes on Aurora Avenue, who come to her for help.
“I’ve had a couple of girls just, ‘I don’t want to go back out there.’ But they have no other choice, or you know, the addiction problem is really bad, and they get desperate,” she said.
While her business is not geared toward prostitutes or drug addicts, Taylor said she has personally tried to help them however she can.
She said her business mantra is “What do you want to do with your finite time on earth?”
Taylor said she hopes this sting helps drive prostitution demand away from her block for a while.
“The great thing about afterwards, is that kind of element stays clear, so it actually helps clean up the area just a little bit,” she said.
Since this story aired, KIRO 7 has confirmed with Seattle police that there were duplicate reports initially posted online. Our original story therefore said there were more than 200 men arrested. It has now been changed to 139 men.
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