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Joplin prostitution charge highlights what's being called seriou - KOAM TV 7

Joplin prostitution charge highlights what's being called serious, growing problem

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Brittany Williams Brittany Williams
Joplin, MO -

Joplin police say prostitution may not be a crime associated to Joplin by many Four Staters.

"We don't have what you associate with prostitution, like in the bigger cities where you have ladies standing on the corner flagging cars down," says Corporal Chuck Niess with the Joplin Police Department.

But a worker at Motel 6 on Rangeline Road says the local prostitution business, underground as it may be, is booming.

We won't identify the worker because the worker did not get permission from the motel's corporate office to talk to us.

Yesterday evening, 33-year-old Brittany Williams and a man were cited by police for prostitution.  Police did not arrest them.

"We've had to deal with space in the jail issues.  So if they have valid ID, and no history of failure to appear, no warrants, then we set a court date and release," says Niess.

A worker at Motel 6's front desk acted on suspicion and called police.  Williams has now been charged with soliciting sex for payment, punishable by a fine up to $500 and/or up to 100 days in jail.

The Motel 6 worker told us he routinely calls police about suspicions of prostitution at the motel.  He visits a website, similar to Craigslist, and says he's alert to whatever details prostitutes may advertise, including their locations.

Joplin police say previous sting operations and investigations showed no organized prostitution.

"What we've found so far is, most of these women are freelancing.  They're individuals," says Niess.

But the Motel 6 worker says a pimp in Joplin has threatened him.

Both police and motel workers say they'll do what they can to keep this type of crime from growing any further.

"We can't deal with things if we don't know about them.  We can't be everywhere at once.  So, the public is the eyes and ears to feed us information, and that is a tremendous help," says Niess.

Police say prostitution is probably happening at other Joplin motels, the motel workers just don't realize it.

Police say drugs are also a problem at Joplin motels near I-44.  But the hope is, by decreasing the number of prostitution cases, the number of drug cases will decrease, and vice versa.

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