'Harlotry Project' p.14

By: SI LIBERMAN PUBLISHING names of johns arrested for soliciting prostitutes is no big deal anymore. But also running their mug shots, marital status, occupations, addresses and other personal information about them is.
That's the tack Florida's Lake Worth Herald and its sister weeklies, the Coastal Observer and Greenacres Observer, have taken to help stamp out prostitution.
What they call "The Harlotry Project" was initiated in 1995 in cooperation with the Lake Worth Police Department, according to Jay Kravetz, the gutsy, 40-year-old editor of the three tabloids.
The weeklies have a combined circulation of 39,000 and are sold and distributed in nine Palm Beach County municipalities.
Long before the campaign got its name, though, Kravetz says, he routinely published pictures and biographical data about arrested johns and prostitutes.
"The first time we devoted three full pages to about 40 who were caught. That was maybe four or five years ago. Since then, I figure we've printed 500 mug shots and bios of johns and prostitutes."
Kravetz says he or his wife, Cheryl Kravetz, 48, a member of his reporting staff, often tag along with police to witness and record sting operations.
"We have a police scanner in our car and a monitor and tape the incriminating solicitations," he adds. "Sometimes I also take pictures of the defendants."
The negotiating for sex favors is usually caught on videotape by law enforcers in a nearby van while the verbal exchanges are recorded by the police decoy, wearing a concealed microphone.
"We've caught and published names and pictures of all kinds of people," Kravitz says, "a doctor, stock broker, actor in a Boca Raton regional theater, an on-duty UPS driver and even one of our own delivery truck drivers. Our guy isn't with us anymore. He got fired."
Pleas from mothers, wives and defendants, claiming innocence in hopes of blocking publicity get nowhere with him, Kravetz maintains.
"I tell them they're welcome to come down and listen to the tapes if they have any doubts about guilt and our right to report what's part of the public record.
"We had one guy who was enroute to the hospital to visit his wife who had just given birth when he was caught. Another was supposed to be married in a week when he was arrested."
The Herald runs no follow on the outcome of the cases.
"A question of fairness? Why should we?" Kravetz snapped back. "They're obviously all guilty. We have it on tape."
From a Palm Beach financial planner with a major Palm Beach County brokerage house who experienced the Herald exposure: "It's been devastating. Someone brought in the picture and showed it around the office. It's affected me financially and put a kink in my career. I may lose my job."
Lt. Mel Mosier, the 39-year-old police veteran who orchestrates the crackdown on Lake Worth's 110-member police squad, credits Herald reports for a noticeable reduction in street solicitations.
"I don't think there are more than five or six prostitutes doing business around here anymore," he says. "It seems some just don't care if they get caught again."
Officer Mike Shields, who processes the arrest records and keeps tabs on the defendants and the department's 10-member anti-vice teams, echoes Mosier's sentiments.
"The Herald's been great," he says.
"What we do is offer defendants a harlotry plea deal. Nearly all take it," he explained.
After signing up for it, they are released on a bail of $250. The deal commits them to getting tested for AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases and drug use, watching a movie about AIDS and undergoing treatment for substance abuse or the disease, if tests prove positive.
"If they meet all requirements and are clean for 60 days, they get the equivalent of a suspended jail sentence. However, the arrest remains on their police record. After arraignment and payment of about $105 in court costs, they're free."
Jeffrey Colbath, a presiding county judge at recent john and prostitute arraignments, doesn't think he's had to send more than five or six to prison. "It's usually a 60-day sentence," he reports. "Most take the plea."
How does he rate the efficiency of the Harlotry Project?
?(Pleas from mothers, wives and defendants, claiming innocence in hopes of blocking publicity get nowhere with Lake Worth (Fla.) Herald editor Jay Kravetz, who continues to publish full page-sometimes two-of men arrested for procuring prostitutes) [Photo & Caption]
web Site: http://www.mediainfo.com.
copyright # Editor & Publisher n April 12, 1997


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