Jump in Prostitution Arrests in Super Bowl Week

Posted: January 30, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Four days before the Super Bowl, just a few blocks from the N.F.L. extravaganza known as Super Bowl Boulevard on Broadway in Midtown Manhattan, a different scene was playing out Wednesday at Midtown Community Court on West 54th Street.

Nearly 20 women were arraigned on prostitution charges, far more than the court ordinarily handles in one day. Most of the women had been arrested over the past 24 hours through undercover police operations using online ads promoting encounters in hotel rooms in and around Times Square.

“It looks like we got more than 20 today,” Russell S. Novack, a criminal defense lawyer, said, examining the folders in his hands. “That’s more than I usually see in a month.” 

Law enforcement officials have cracked down on prostitution leading up to the Super Bowl, and the court added social services staff members to accommodate the number of women coming through its doors.

“It’s very specific,” said Anthony Favale, the New York Police Department’s vice enforcement coordinator. “Times Square is shut down, and you have a captive audience here. We’re cautious and fearful that people are going to come with a mind-set that this is acceptable.”

SUPER BOWL XLVIII

  • The 48th Super Bowl is the first time the game to decide the champion of the National Football League will be played in the New York City area since the Super Bowl era began.

    Visitors Guide | Crystal Bowl | Full Coverage

 

The Super Bowl’s impact on host cities’ underground sex industry is explored every year, as thousands of fans pour into town. People who work in the industry say the week leading up to the game is among the most profitable. But reliable data on the sex trade — legal or illegal — during Super Bowl week does not exist.

The Police Department said it had made 298 prostitution-related arrests this year through Jan. 26, a 30 percent increase over the same period in 2013.

In recent years, the Super Bowl has become a rallying point for anti-prostitution and anti-sex trafficking groups.

The Polaris Project, a nonprofit organization that fights human trafficking, has posted billboards along the Interstate 95 corridor and increased the number of people working its hotline. The New Jersey attorney general began a campaign more than a year ago, and local volunteers are delivering soap with anti-trafficking tip lines printed on the packaging. A seminar sponsored by law enforcement was held this month, with more than 100 representatives from local hotels, restaurants and bars.

“Unfortunately, when you have visitors, this increases,” said Steven Fulop, the mayor of Jersey City, where the Broncos and the Seahawks are staying this week. “From everything we understand, the Super Bowl is an entirely different animal. It’s uncharted territory.”

But Rachel Lloyd, founder and chief executive of Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, a nonprofit that provides services to sexually exploited and domestically trafficked girls and young women, said the attention that the Super Bowl had drawn to sex trafficking and the overall sex industry may be overblown and actually hurt victims. There is no evidence, she said, of a significant increase with major sporting events.

“Trafficking can happen anytime, anywhere,” she said.

Lloyd’s organization operates a shelter at an undisclosed location in New York that serves over 350 girls and women.

“Do I think we’ll get a couple of extra young women that week? Probably,” Lloyd said. “But there will be more law enforcement, and if you did law enforcement like this on a Tuesday night in March, you’d get victims. It’s happening enough that if you look for it, it’s happening.”

In New York, prostitution can result in jail time of up to 90 days. But most of the women arraigned this week will enter various social service programs with ties to groups like housing and domestic violence prevention, said Courtney Bryan, project director for Midtown Community Court. “Many of these women are in immediate crisis,” she said.

Legal businesses, like Vivid Cabaret New York on West 37th Street, also claim to benefit from the game’s fan base. Shaun Kevlin, who manages Vivid and nearby Rick’s Cabaret on West 33rd Street, said he would increase his staff of 90 women at Rick’s to 130 this week to suit larger crowds.

“There’s a huge influx,” Kevlin said. “They come from Vegas, Chicago, Miami to audition to work here that week.”

Correction: January 30, 2014 

An earlier version of this article misstated part of the name of the court where nearly 20 women were arraigned on prostitution charges on Wednesday. It is Midtown Community Court, not Manhattan Community Court.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s