Seven arrested in city prostitution sting
By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on October 14, 2009 1:46 PM
Large increases in the number of reported syphilis cases in Goldsboro played a role in a prostitution round-up over the weekend, a police major said.
Seven people accused of prostitution -- including one male charged with soliciting a "crime against nature" -- were arrested, authorities said today.
Maj. Mike Hopper said the arrests are intended to both help the alleged prostitutes and to at least temporarily remove a possible vector for sexually transmitted diseases.
Hopper said he realizes that people who are selling their bodies might have other underlying problems.
"We try to get them counseling, and if they need a safe place to stay, we try to find housing for them," Hopper said.
Simply arresting prostitution suspects has a short-term benefit, Hopper said, but people accused of the crime often need other outside assistance.
"Just locking them up, sometimes that'll give them time to sober up and get some drugs out of their system."
Long term, however, an arrest and a $500 bond for prostitution-related charges are rarely enough to turn a life around, Hopper said, which is why the department attempts to obtain counseling for such subjects.
Also on Hopper's mind, he said, were statistics recently released by the Wayne County Health Department, showing significant increases in syphilis.
County Health Director James Roosen said in calendar year 2008, there were 23 reported cases of syphilis in Goldsboro, compared to three reported cases in 2003.
So far this year, the Health Department has learned of 46 cases of the disease, which goes through several stages and is almost always a treatable illness.
"We've had a pretty extreme resurgence," Roosen said.
And although syphilis is a treatable disease, statistics show it is often followed by another infection that is not, the health director said.
"One of the reasons that we're concerned about syphilis, when you see increases in syphilis, you'll often see increases of HIV," Roosen said.
That could be attributed to simple sexual promiscuity or to the actual symptoms of syphilis, which can cause painful sores technically called "chancres."
"If you have syphilis, and you have a chancre (during the primary stage), which is basically a sore, it's a lot easier to get HIV into the bloodstream," Roosen said.
Prevention of sexually transmitted disease was not the first goal of the campaign of arrests, which will continue elsewhere in Goldsboro, Hopper said. The police major also said police might return to the George Street area in the northwestern edge of town, where the alleged prostitution arrests occurred.
Police Chief Tim Bell and Hopper said the arrests came as a result of both citizen complaints and plain police observation.
"I don't want to say we had right many, we just had some citizens call us with some concerns, and we just noticed some more activity on the street in that area as far as prostitution," Bell said. "These guys (the Goldsboro Police Department Street Level Task Force) went to work on it this past weekend."
Arrested in the sweep were:
*Juanita Moody, 40, West Grantham Street, solicit for prostitution and possession of drug paraphernalia, $500 bond.
*Geraldine McGary, 49, Goldsboro, solicit for prostitution.
*Deborah Ann Outlaw, 44, Fletcher Place, Greenville, solicit for prostitution, $500 bond.
*Bobby Jo Whitman Newhart, 40, King Road, solicit for prostitution, $500 bond.
*Tazmaea Williams, 39, Mill Dam Lane, loitering for the purpose of prostitution, possess drug paraphernalia, $500 bond.
*Sheila Marshall, 44, Seaboard Street, solicit for prostitution, $500 bond.
*Larry Wade Lucas, 22, Quaker Drive, solicit for prostitution, $500 bond.
Police Capt. Al King said in a news release that police will continue targeting additional areas throughout the city.
The police chief said he could not comment on the specifics of those operations, but said that police would continue to pursue alleged prostitution attempts.
"If they're out there, we're going to always be trying to get them," Bell said.
Although the health director was laudatory of police efforts, he said his true goal is education.
To that end, the Health Department is holding a program Nov. 6 called "Get Real. Get Tested," where health workers will venture into Goldsboro neighborhoods to provide free HIV/AIDS testing.
"I'm not so sure we'll be able to eliminate illicit behavior," Roosen said. "We need to teach people how to protect themselves."