Instead of waiting for complaint calls, Lewisburg Police detectives investigated a Web site offering young women for sexual liaisons and a sting conducted at a local motel resulted in two arrests.
As a result of Internet postings, Terri Lynn Clapper, 30, of Springfield, Tenn., and Tiffany E. Raines, 22, of Lebanon, Tenn., went to the Celebration Inn where they offered sexual favors in exchange for cash, Police Detective James Johnson reported on Aug. 13.
The prostitution sting could not have been conducted without the cooperation of Millie Miller, proprietor of the Inn, who said on Wednesday that she's done so to help police rid the city of crime. Inn staffers were told something might happen that night, but the undercover operation was conducted quietly and the staff didn't know it happened until the next day, if not later, Miller said.
Detective Sgt. David Henley anticipated additional enforcement this month, but spoke more openly about the sting this week after a WTVF-TV Nashville report early this week.
Metro police busted an online prostitution ring and took two 17-year-old girls into custody on petitions that they be declared delinquents, the station reported, identifying the same Web site, backpage.com, as the connection point for liaisons at the Comfort Inn on Elm Hill Pike in Nashville where Tyree Walker, 37, Macon, Ga., was charged with trafficking for sexual servitude. His bond was set at $52,000. The TV station said the girls' photos were posted online.
Clapper and Raines were held on $7,000 bond in the Marshall County Jail on charges of prostitution and promoting prostitution.
Raines pleaded guilty of a lesser charge of attempted promotion of prostitution, according to court records signed by Marshall County Sessions Court Judge Steve Bowden on Aug. 17. She was sentenced to 11 months and 29 days, but incarceration was suspended and she's serving 30 days of supervised probation.
Raines also pleaded guilty of prostitution and her punishment is to be served at the same time as the attempted promotion conviction, according to the public documents.
The promotion of prostitution charges are a result of the defendants' placement of an ad on the Web site, according to Johnson's statement on arrest warrants.
Clapper is scheduled for a court hearing on Sept. 14.
Johnson led the Lewisburg Police side of the investigation, according to Henley who credited uniformed patrol officers with intelligence gathering. Marshall County Sheriff's Detectives Bart Fagan and Keith Jolley participated in the sting.
Sgt. Sam Barnes, of the Maury County Sheriff's Department, contacted both women through the Web site and they agreed to meet him at the motel here. Shane George, an agent with the 17th Judicial District Drug Task Force and Spring Hill Police Detective Ashley Myers were also participating in the sting.
Clapper refused to talk with police without a lawyer, Johnson reported. Raines said she "had been a prostitute since June" because "she doesn't have a job and needed money."
Asked about patrons of the illegal trade, Henley said, "At some point in time there will be. We have to be proactive to prevent this from happening to locals. Our chief is proactive and is the drive behind everything." Then commenting on the owner of the Inn here, Henley said, "She's a gem - always willing to help law enforcement and we appreciate that."