08 prostitution followupAUST AND ROCH mk/

By Karen Colbenson

Four women were cited for prostitution Saturday in what Austin Police Chief Paul Philipp described as an ongoing crackdown.

Philipp said the Austin Police Department works with other local law enforcement departments, including the Southeast Minnesota Narcotics Task Force, on the issue of prostitution a couple times per year. Last year, the Austin Police Department assisted Dodge County law officials in their efforts with the crime, and this year, their officials reciprocated in Mower County.

The outside help is vital because it brings unknown faces into the community, according to Philipp.


"It’s hard when most officers are known and recognized by people here in Austin, so it’s essential that we bring in people outside the department to assist us," said Philipp.

The women most recently cited had solicited various sexual acts to confidential informants and undercover officers for prices ranging from $300 to $400.

According to Philipp, two of the women were dancers at Paradise Island. Another woman described herself as a student at Minnesota State University-Mankato in an ad listed on Craigs List Web site. One woman from St. Paul worked through an escort service.

Calling the issue of prostitution a "recurring problem in our community," Philipp said its also a crime that invites other crime to the city.

"It’s … one that brings with it other problems," said Philipp.

Prostitution is often connected to other types of "vice-crimes" said Philipp, including drugs and theft.

He also said the police department often looks into complaints made by local residents who are suspicious about the activity.

"We try to monitor what’s going on in the bars as best we can, but its one of a variety of things that take place," said Philipp.


One of the recently cited woman, who goes by the name "Mystic" sent an e-mail to several people, including city officials and media, warning other women about the "sting."

The woman stated in the e-mail that several allegations and charges have been made against the officers at the Austin Police Department for violating "protected constitutional rights." Philipp said it’s not unusual for statements like that to be made after an arrest, but doesn’t expect the department will be charged.

The women likely will be charged with misdemeanors, said Philipp.

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