- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 23, 2003

D.C. police say efforts to stop prostitution have focused on stopping men from transporting sex-trade workers from across state lines.

Right now, police have two such cases in the federal court system, including one next month in which a New York man is accused of bringing female teens to the District. Police say the man confessed to committing the crime on “several occasions.”

The second case involves a man who awaits sentencing for bringing a teenager from Ohio to the District. The government did not prosecute him for transporting another teen and a 22-year-old woman as part of a plea agreement.

Stopping or at least curbing prostitution is primarily the work of the Metropolitan Police Department’s prostitution enforcement unit, which helped investigate both cases. Mark A. Gilkey, the unit’s senior investigator, said “pimp cases” are his top priorities.

“When you have the opportunity to make one of these cases, you put all available resources behind it,” he said. “Prosecuting the pimps is difficult.”

Such was the case last year when the prostitution unit failed to get an indictment against a pimp because two prostitutes were reluctant to testify.

Still, Detective Gilkey said the cases prove the unit does good police work and gets major investigations to trial.

In the trial set for Aug. 5, Roderick W. Jackson of Syracuse, N.Y., is accused of bringing a carload of prostitutes to the District on May 14, according to court documents.

The documents state Jackson, 37, and another man drove the four prostitutes — including a 16- and 17-year-old — from New York state to Washington. Jackson made similar trips on at least six other occasions, the documents also state.

Testifying in a bond hearing, Detective Gilkey said Jackson, whose record includes a conviction for attempted felony assault, intimidated prostitutes by slapping them and taking their cell phones. He also said Jackson’s business even included a trainee program in which a women was brought to the District just to see whether she could do the work.

Jackson was interrogated soon after he rented a hotel room for the prostitutes, then sent them to K Street NW at about 2 a.m., according to court filings. One of the women told a 1st District police officer she had been kidnapped and forced into prostitution.

Detective Gilkey testified that it was not clear whether the prostitute was held against her will. Jackson told police the woman was a crack cocaine addict whom he paid with drugs, and that she lied about a kidnapping because Jackson did not give her cocaine on the trip.

Jackson also admitted to bringing the women to the District for prostitution and said he had brought the two teenage prostitutes into the city at least six times, Detective Gilkey said.

The Rev. Clarence R. Diggs, a friend of Jackson’s, said by phone Tuesday from New York he was “astounded” the younger man confessed. “Roderick is no highly successful, big-time pimp,” said the preacher, who also wrote a letter included in court filings stating that Jackson is a good man but unwise.

The public defender representing Jackson would not comment on the case.

The other case, involving the Ohio man who awaits sentencing on the plea agreement, also is typical of organized prostitution in the city.

Justin R. Howard of Toledo, brought three prostitutes — ages 15, 16 and 22 — from Ohio to the District in July of 2002.

The 22-year-old was Howard’s estranged girlfriend who hoped selling sex for him would repair their relationship, according to court documents. The 16-year-old already was a prostitute for Howard and persuaded her 15-year-old cousin to join the group on a trip to the District for prostitution.

The prostitutes told police that Howard, 20, laid down the rules: All the money goes to him, no looking at other pimps and the 15-year-old should give a false name if questioned by police.

Before leaving Ohio, Howard also took the women’s clothing and outfitted them in high heels and lingerie from Victoria’s Secret, according to documents.

Police say the investigation began after officers saw the prostitutes walking along the 1400 block of L Street and stopped them for questioning.

Meanwhile, Howard was stopped at an intersection for not wearing a seat belt. Court filings state a bag of marijuana was visible next to him in the car.

Howard, who has an extensive juvenile record,accepted the plea agreement in which he admitted only to transporting one of the teens. He awaits a sentence as lawyers continue to argue about the guidelines, according to July 14 filings. The public defender representing him did not return phone calls.

In a hearing to confirm the plea bargain, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan noted the severity of Howard’s crime.

“He was persuading a lot of people to do a lot of things,” the judge said, according to transcripts.

Howard said he felt remorse, and the judge promised to consider the statement in his sentence. The judge also said he would recommend Howard to a boot camp program.

“I need discipline, sir,” Howard responded.

Michele F. Molotsky, a staff member for D.C. Council member Jack Evans (Ward 2 Democrat), said the prostitution unit has reduced the amount of prostitution in Northwest, where the women in both cases were operating.

“We very rarely get complaints now,” Miss Molotsky said. However, “It’s kind of a fluid situation, and I think it goes from one neighborhood to another depending on where the attention is brought.”

Detective Gilkey said much of the prostitution in the 1st, 3rd and 5th districts comes from organized, transient operations.

“We have a rotation where guys bring girls in from California, New York,” he said. “It’s just a rotation. They move to the major cities until they get caught.”

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