Sexual assault warning signs greet Aquinas College students on first day of classes

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Kati Rogers and Liza Flewelling are no strangers to roads and paths that weave around the Aquinas College campus off East Fulton Street.

As seniors, the two have traveled them many times. They didn’t mind passing through the intersection of E. Fulton Street near Lowell Avenue during a Monday afternoon run, despite two reports of sexual assaults—one on a college student— over the weekend in that area.

“We are by a city, we’re not far from it, so you always have to be aware of things like that,” said Rogers, standing outside the school’s fitness center.

On the building’s doors were a flurry of bright orange pages, notifying students of the crime reports.

They were posted just before many freshman were to begin their first day of college classes.

Meg Derrer, the college’s associate vice president of marketing and communications, noted state law that requires colleges to post information when crimes are committed.

But still, she said, it was important incoming students know of escort services and other resources they may take advantage of. The college offers escort rides to students traveling to and from many locations within a one-mile radius of campus—from dusk until dawn, every day of the year.

courtesy photo / Grand Rapids policeComposites of the same suspect were generated by two different victims

Police are continuing to search for a man suspected in two sexual assaults near the college campus early Saturday.

Around 2:20 a.m., a 21-year-old woman walking near the intersection of East Fulton Street and Lowell Avenue NE said she was attacked and sexually assaulted. The attacker was not known to her, she told police.

About half an hour later, a 47-year-old woman walking in the area said she was accosted by a person with a similar description: a black man, 25-35 years old, 5’7” to 5’10,” with a stocky, muscular build.

The man reportedly had hair shaved short in a fade haircut and was wearing khaki shorts and a multi-colored, horizontally striped shirt.

Grand Rapids Lt. Mark Ostapowicz today said the 21-year-old was a college student.

Detectives are still investigating details of the two attacks.

“It didn’t sound like the man was hiding, but the younger woman didn’t know where he came from,” Ostapowicz said.

The older woman managed to flail her arms and fight back enough to ward off the attacker and get away.

Rogers said she often travels through the area in question during mid-afternoon runs, but makes sure she is walking with someone else at night—more as a way to exercise caution than because of any worry.

She advised that incoming freshman do the same.

Elizabeth Erickson, also an Aquinas senior, frequently rides her bike and walks from a job at the Family Fare on East Fulton, just a few block from campus.

She doesn’t have a car to drive home after dusk, but uses the bike as a way to travel home quickly. Other times, she’ll call the campus escort service for rides around campus.

It’s easy for new students to downplay warnings of family and college staff to walk in groups, Erickson said, but those warnings can’t be taken lightly.

“Your parents aren’t kidding,” she said.

Police are asking anyone with further information about this weekend’s reported assaults to call the Grand Rapids Police Department at 456-3604 or Silent Observer at 774-2345.

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Vegas goes after porn ads

Officials have adopted an anti-littering ordinance aimed at cleaning semi-pornographic ads from Las Vegas Strip sidewalks.

Clark County commissioners unanimously approved a rule last week  that makes hand billers responsible when people toss their ads to the ground. The ordinance says cleanup within an eight-metre radius of the hand-biller must happen every 15 minutes.

Commissioners have been considering ways to spruce up the tourist district, where portions of the sidewalk and streets are covered with business card-sized ads for escort services. Hand billers often slap the cards against their hands and push them toward passersby.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada has opposed the new rule, saying it will likely be selectively enforced to target hand billers but let tourists off easy.

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Columbia University grad suing over pictures that make her look like an escort

A recent Columbia University grad who modeled to help pay tuition has slammed the brakes on Volvo, Hertz and the Ford Models agency, charging in a new lawsuit that they took her for a ride.

In one modeling shot Carolyn Giles says was used without permission, she was made out to look like a professional Swedish escort.

“It looks like something you’d see in the old yellow pages directories under escort services,” said Giles’ lawyer, David Jaroslawicz. “It makes her look sleazy.”

Giles, 30, has accused Ford Models in a $23 million lawsuit of letting Volvo and Hertz hijack her image and use it worldwide — even though she was paid only a one-time use fee to promote Volvo’s S40 model.

She got wind of her global exposure from an ex-boyfriend who was living in Argentina.

“He thought he had seen my photo in a Hertz ad there,” Giles said in an interview Tuesday. “I found that Volvo was using my picture for different (car) models in 30 countries.”

She said Hertz also used her picture in ads — and in a report to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

FACEBOOK   Carolyn Giles is suing or $23 million.

But she was most shocked to find her image on a website called Fast Impressions, near a headline that reads: “Spend the night with a Swedish model of your choice!”

The caption under her picture says “Rev Up Your Love Life.”

That website was promoting parties for “Elites Only,” where participants could “boost (their) midweek social diary” by driving around Melbourne and Sydney, Australia, in new Volvos, followed by cocktails with “sexy Swedish models of all shapes and sizes.”

Jaroslawicz said the photo duplication was a no-no.

“I can’t take Julia Roberts’ picture and advertise soap,” he said. “They started using her (Giles) as if they owned her.”

Giles — a Florida native who has modeled since she was 18 — just completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia.

Screen grab from Elites Only Parties that shows Model Carolyn Giles, 23 (top photo). Giles is suing Volvo, Ford Models agency and Hertz Corp. for using her image in a series of dating websites.

She was paid $1,000 for one photo shoot that was to result in pictures for Volvo’s S40 model.

She said she tried to get Ford to enforce her contract but “they gave me the runaround.”

After getting nowhere with Ford, she said she did her own investigation and “found all this out by using Google’s reverse images.”

Spokesmen for Ford, Volvo and Hertz offered no immediate comment on the lawsuit.

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Central Texas Man Charged In Child Prostitution Case Remains In Jail

WACO (August 20, 2012)–A federal magistrate ordered a Killeen man to remain in custody Monday after a preliminary hearing in a child prostitution case.

Jerome Maurice Cole, 26, appeared before federal magistrate Jeffrey C. Manske Monday afternoon.

Manske found probable cause to refer the case to federal grand jury and ordered Cole to remain in custody.

A federal affidavit alleges Cole was promoting prostitution over the Internet and that at least two of the girls he was promoting were underage.

Authorities think one of the girls is a runaway from Brownwood and the other from California.

Killeen police found the 16-year-old Brownwood girl inside Cole’s trailer on May 16 after her mother reported her missing, authorities said.

Police found pictures of the girl listed on a website under escort services, dressed only in underwear, authorities said.

Police say Cole later admitted he had driven to Brownwood to get the girl and that she had been working for him as a prostitute, authorities said.

The girl later told investigators Cole had sexually assaulted her as well, authorities said.

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Republican and Democratic conventions could spur sex trafficking: experts?

The tens of thousands of people expected to attend the 2012 national political conventions may spur sex trafficking in the host cities.

Advocates say the start of the Republican National Convention in Tampa this Monday and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte a week later could create a corresponding increase in the number of workers who may be compelled involuntarily to perform commercial sexual acts, the Charlotte Observer reported.

U.S. law prohibits forcing, coercing or luring someone into performing labor, services or sexual acts. Children who are sold for sex count automatically as trafficking victims. The forced-sex-trade differs from prostitution, when an adult chooses to sell sex for money.

The demand for commercial sex may rise because convention visitors “feel more free,” Charity Magnuson, director of N.C. Stop Human Trafficking, an advocacy group, told the Charlotte Observer. Conventions and other large-scale events can intensify the problem, which has nothing to do with politics, she added.

As many as 50,000 people could descend on Tampa for the GOP gathering. Another 35,000 might show up for the Democratic confab in Charlotte.

Still, experts say the problem may be more persistent. “The reality is that victims of sex trafficking are for sale in our communities every day, convention or not,” Professor Bridgette Carr, director of the University of Michigan Law School’s Human Trafficking Clinic, told the Daily News.

For their part, the convention cities are cracking down on the illicit sex trade in the run-up to the parties’ quadrennial gatherings.

Police in Tampa recently arrested 16 women in a two-day sweep of a dozen adult establishments, WPTV-TV reported. Between September and January, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police reportedly aided the FBI and Department of Homeland Security in at least five undercover operations to rescue minors from the commercial sex industry.

Magnuson says her group is training hotel staff to spot sex-trafficking signs and calling women who appear in listings for escort services.

“It’s a hidden crime,” Capt. S.C. Voorhees of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police told the Charlotte Observer. “Without the public’s tips, a lot of cases would go undiscovered.”

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Prostitution-Ad Revenue Still Falls Short Of Past Craigslist Totals

ORLANDO, Fla., Aug. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — It’s been nearly two years since Craigslist stopped accepting paid advertising from escorts and escort services, and other sites still haven’t generated as much revenue collectively as Craigslist made from prostitution ads.

(Photo:  http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120828/CG62713)

In fact, revenue from online escort advertising declined in July for the third straight month on five sites tracked by the AIM Group. Escort-ad revenue on those sites totaled $2.9 million last month, down 5.5 percent from $3.1 million in June, according to AIM Group estimates.

When Craigslist closed its adult services section in September 2010, its ads for escorts and body-rub services generated an average of $3.7 million a month. The AIM Group, a classified advertising consultancy, estimated at the time that Craigslist would make $44.6 million from online prostitution ads in 2010.

Since then, the AIM Group has tracked other sites that sell escort advertising, and the monthly revenue generated has never reached Craigslist levels. Over the last 12 months, five sites have generated an estimated $37.3 million from online prostitution ads. From August 2011 through July, monthly revenue amounts have been steady, ranging between $2.9 million and $3.3 million.

Although some prostitution ads have clearly migrated to other sites, the evidence indicates that many Craigslist ads did not move. Since Craigslist abolished its adult services advertising section, escort ads have appeared in the site’s personals section. Craigslist deletes many of those ads within hours after they appear.

Craigslist closed its adult services section under pressure from law enforcement officials and anti-sex-trafficking groups who complained the ads promoted both prostitution and sex slavery involving girls under 18. Their ire is now directed at Backpage and Village Voice Media, and the pressure has become more intense. Cities and states have passed laws and resolutions against prostitution advertising, which is protected by the federal Communications Decency Act.

Backpage.com, a general classifieds site owned by Village Voice Media, replaced Craigslist as the leading online publisher of prostitution advertising. Between August 2011 and July, Backpage generated $28.6 million in revenue from online escort and body-rub ads published in 23 U.S. cities. That’s 73.6 percent of the $37.3 million total generated by all five tracked sites.

In September 2010, Backpage generated $1.7 million from online prostitution ads, 65.4 percent of the total. In July, Backpage generated $2.3 million from the ads (a 38.2 percent increase compared with nearly two years ago) and 79.3 percent of the monthly total.

AIM Group estimates of Village Voice Media revenue from prostitution advertising are extremely conservative, because they cover only online advertising in a small percentage of its markets, and do not include print advertising.

For more AIM Group research on prostitution advertising, including graphics and charts showing traffic, revenue, unique users and more, visit AIMGroup.com: http://aimgroup.com/2012/08/24/prostitution-ad-revenue-still-falls-short-of-past-craigslist-totals/ The research also includes revenue estimates for Eros.com, CityVibe.com, MyRedbook.com and AdultSearch.com.

Editors: Peter M. Zollman, founding principal of the AIM Group, and Mark A. Whittaker, senior consultant for the AIM Group, are available for comment on the research. Zollman is available at 407-788-2780 or peterz@AIMgroup.com; Whittaker is available at 724-553-8428 or markw@AIMgroup.com.

About the AIM Group: The AIM Group, formally known as the Advanced Interactive Media Group LLC, is the world’s leading consultancy in interactive media and classified advertising. It publishes Classified Intelligence Report, a continuous advisory service often called “the bible of the classified advertising industry.” The AIM Group works with leading media companies, broadcasters, dot-coms, yellow-page publishers and technology companies. It provides strategic and tactical consulting; sales training; proprietary and published research about interactive media, and other services. Founded in 1998, it is based in Altamonte Springs, Fla. For more information call (407) 788-2780 or see http://AIMGroup.com.

Media Contact: Jennifer Waxman-Loyd, The AIM Group, Advanced Interactive Media Group  LL, 407.949.4444, jenniferl@aimgroup.com

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Man robbed by escort service ‘date’ and accomplice

Fayetteville, N.C. — A man who met a woman through an online escort service got more than he planned for when he told police he was robbed by his ‘date’ and her accomplice.

Fayetteville police said the robbery happened shortly after 1 a.m. Monday when the victim met the woman and followed her to a residence in the 800 block of Ridge Road. He told police he met her through an Internet forum that advertises escort services.

While outside, a gunman approached and robbed the man of his money and personal property before fleeing on foot. When the victim called 911 to report the robbery, his date drove away.

The victim gave police a description of the woman’s car, which officers found at a residence in the 800 block of Tamarack Drive. When officers knocked on the door, the occupants locked it.

Officers secured the perimeter around the home to ensure the occupants would not escape. Eventualy, two people exited the home and were arrested. Investigators said the pair conspired to rob the victim.

Kala Brown, 23, and Gabriel McCrayer, 26, who both listed the dwelling on Tamarack Drive as their residence, were each charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon.

Brown also was charged with soliciting for prostitution and was held on a $25,000 secured bond.

McCrayer also was charged with resist, delay and obstruction and was held on a $25,000 secured bond.

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Cops monitoring sex trade during Olympics?

London: Scotland Yard on Monday said it was keeping a close watch as reports claimed that London was `set to be flooded with prostitutes` during the forthcoming Olympics to cater to the thousands of visitors expected.

Reports in the tabloid press claimed that a large number of prostitutes were expected to be in London during the duration of the Olympics.

According to the Daily Mail, some escort agencies were offering `Olympic escorts` and `gold medal` services, and that there was increased activity in east London near the stadium in Stratford.

A Yard spokesman told a news agency that a dedicated Olympics team had been set up three years ago to deal with “all forms of trafficking that might be linked with the Olympics”.

He said, “As time has moved on we have not seen any rise in trafficking linked with the Olympics. This will be continually monitored and reviewed, while our ongoing operations and investigations regarding trafficking, unrelated to the Olympics, will continue”.

Scotland Yard carries out local enforcement operations in response to community concerns to deal with the negative impact on street prostitution has on local residents and to assist vulnerable women from breaking the cycle of offending, he added.

No arrest figures are available for the five London boroughs in which the Olympics are to be held.

According to a newspaper, escort agencies were “adopting the Olympic name, laying on extra women and offering special `gold medal services”.

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