The bust grabbed quick headlines. Two women allegedly running an Internet-advertised prostitution business in an unlikely setting was a natural. But questions linger about how law enforcement officials finally made a case to try to stop it. Charges are pending, defendants have lawyers prepared to fight them and the outcome may not be as open and shut as many had assumed.
Deputies served a search warrant at Ridgecrest Square in the Greystone subdivision. Arrested there were year-old A. Samontry and year-old Pornpiemon Phouangmany, U. The investigation began because of complaints from neighbors about the amount of traffic in the neighborhood.
The suspects were quickly released on bond. The offenses are misdemeanors, with relatively minor penalties. Further reporting raised interesting angles in the case. For one, the man charged with solicitation does not fit the typical john-prostitute profile. The setting has media appeal. Lawns are manicured, driveways are swept and little bicycles with pink tassels hanging from the handlebars lie on their sides in front yards along the street. Think the gritty portions of Roosevelt Road in Little Rock, a historic hotspot for the flesh trade.
The women who were arrested have said they were running a massage business out of their home. They do not appear on the state list of d massage therapists.
The women have entered not guilty pleas. A that once sat on the side of Highway 5 advertising the business has been taken down.
Advertisements were also placed on the site back. There remain, however, many other suggestive from women in Arkansas offering massage and other intimate services. The Arkansas Times has a link to back. Kevin Blakely lived next door and rented the house to the two women for two years. So after awhile you think about it and you only come to the one conclusion.
I think the police feel they have enough evidence. Little Rock attorney Dan Hancock is representing both women in the case. How did deputies conclude that this was an episode of prostitution rather than, say, rekindling of an old flame? Reggie Koch, a Little Rock attorney who represents Richard, says the two are still, as far as he knows, in a relationship and were not having sex at the time of the arrest. He pays her every month because he still owes her from their divorce.
They have always had, other than when they were pissed off at each other, a relationship. Kulesa says there was more to the case than just statements from the two unidentified johns.
It was a girl lying on the bed with a bikini bottom on. But I guess that will be up to a judge to decide. Blakely said both Samontry and Phouangmany were good tenants who kept the place clean and always paid their rent on time. He says, as do others in the neighborhood, that he hardly ever saw the women living at the house next door.
Jolene Payne lives across the street from Ridgecrest. She was the most vigilant of the neighbors in trying to get something done about the incessant traffic. Go do something about it. How is that not suspicious?
How is that not proof? In other words, the girl has to be the one to bring up the idea of sex for money. The Internet has made it easier and more discreet to procure sex for money at private locations. The advertising, however, also makes it easier to track and find potential prostitutes. There would have to be an offer. The LRPD vice squad stays busy on old-fashioned street prostitution.
But Hastings says the Internet is still a useful tool for investigators. The catalyst for most prostitution investigations is complaints. InNorth Little Rock Police made five arrests related to online prostitution offers, all after receiving complaints. According to an NLRPD spokesman, in the past two years no Internet-related arrests have been made because of a lack of complaints. The continued prevalence of Arkansas sex offers on-line suggests enforcement is generally a low priority.
Other crimes demand more urgent attention.
The punishment is relatively slight, particularly against the low risk of being arrested. There needs to be a stricter penalty.
They should have done jail time personally. A trial date has been set for Aug. Until then, life goes on in Greystone. The house at Ridgecrest is up for sale and Blakely is eager to have a new tenant. Samontry and Phouangmany moved out shortly after their arrest. Of course they were running a business with everyone watching them. So I kinda figured they had to move anyway to continue doing what they were doing. His family likes the added sense of security.
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