A 71-year-old Westport woman’s use of a Glastonbury hotel for alleged prostitution in January raises the question about the level of illegal sexual activities in other central Connecticut towns, including Rocky Hill.
The woman was arrested after police say she arranged online to meet a man in a Glastonbury hotel and have sex with him for money.
The 71-year-old was caught in Glastonbury after posting an ad on a website called www.backpage.com. It is a typical buy-and-sell website similar to Craigslist. Under the section labeled Adults, there is a subsection titled "Escorts."
There are multiple advertisements for "escorts" listing "in-call" service to Berlin and Rocky Hill. All of the posts included photos.
Patch found that while there were many posts that listed Berlin or Berlin Turnpike as the escorts' home base, the actual locations were on the Berlin Turnpike in Newington at hotels including the Carrier Inn and the Grantmoor Motor Lodge, or in Meriden.
Those that listed Rocky Hill were all working out of the Comfort Inn on the Silas Deane Highway just over the line in Wethersfield. Patch could find no prostitutes posting on www.backpage.com that were actually working out of a Rocky Hill hotel.
"Rocky Hill participates in the Mid-State Narcotics Task Force, a conglomerate of five towns that concentrate on drugs and vice, which prostitution would fall into," said Rocky Hill Police Lt. Brian Klett, also Rocky Hill's Public Information Officer. "With the task force we pool our resources and share cost saving measures for drugs and vice operations. We are also able to share information.
"The task force uses techniques such as undercover officers and reverse cold calls to these advertisements. Our patrol response is to have high visibility in these areas like the Silas Deane Highway. We have a crime tips line on our website but most of those calls are for quality of life issues. We very rarely get any tips about prostitution.
"Some might say this is a victimless crime but we have seen with prostitution comes drugs and human trafficking. You are not going to get a complaint from a person who is not happy with their service."
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Patch contacted two posters on backpage.com, both of whom talked at length by both text and phone and neither was afraid of the police.
One said she was a 21-year-old from Rhode Island named Mya. She said she comes to the Comfort Inn in Wethersfield twice a month and makes $1,000 to $1,500 on a Friday and Saturday. She charges $150 for a half hour and $250 for a full hour. The services included in either session are up for discussion, she said.
Another woman who spoke to Patch said she was named Veronica. She said she was 26 and lives in Massachusetts. She said she usually comes to the same Comfort Inn for a couple weeks at a time. She said in a good week, she can make $3,000, maybe more, and she is always busy. She said Connecticut is an easy location because there are a lot of travelers who know of the website and there is little threat of police making arrests.
Patch parked at the Carrier Inn in Newington on a recent Wednesday afternoon, where several women on backpage.com said they worked. In a half-hour, several men pulled into the parking lot, got out of their cars, checked their phones and eventually disappeared into a room. The room numbers are hard to see, so most of them wandered around trying to find the room they were looking for. A Newington police car drove through the parking lot but never stopped.
After talking to the two women, Mya and Veronica, on the phone, Patch decided to go to the Wethersfield Comfort Inn on a Friday night. According to the women, the fourth floor is inhabited by prostitutes. In the lobby, people checked in and came in to get ice.
In addition, upwards of a dozen men from midnight until 1 a.m. entered the hotel and rode the elevator to the fourth floor.
At about 12:30 a.m., blaring music from inside rooms could be heard in the fourth floor hallway, and there was the smell of marijuana and cigarette smoke.
Patch called Comfort Inn and asked if they had any problems with prostitution and the young man at the front desk seemed shocked by what Patch related to him.
"There hasn't been a problem or any complaints about this to my knowledge," he said. "None of the guests have complained and there have been no incidents here. Thank you for telling us about the website and I will relay that to my manager. We don't want that, especially if they are saying they are staying at our hotel."
Several posters on backpage.com contacted by Patch offered to send photos to let the caller know they were the real person in the photos, saying that many girls post model photos to lure men to contact them.
"They are teeter-tottering on what they can say and what they can't based on the law," Rocky Hill's Brian Klett said. "If they are willing to commit a sexual act for money they are willing to commit criminal activity so they are either brazen or ignorant by nature. We know it's out there and we are constantly monitoring the situation."