While many purveyors of the world’s oldest profession celebrate a randy renaissance on the Internet, prostitutes in Brooklyn are still digging their spiked heels into the familiarity of the street corner.
As local elected officials warn borough prosecutors about the increase of on-line prostitution at websites such as Criagslist.org, officials from the Kings County District Attorney’s office say that they do not have any investigations regarding this new trend.
Rather, they’re hands are full with the run of the mill street solicitations in borough hotspots like Red Hook, Sunset Park and East New York.
“We have a couple of cases that are related to Craig’s List, but they’re not about hookers advertising their wares,” a DA spokesperson said this week.
Based on the prosecutions done by the Kings County District Attorney’s Sex Crimes Bureau, prostitution arrests occur “mainly in East New York,” the spokesperson said.
“There’s also a little bit in Red Hook and Sunset Park,” he added.
Yet some officials are refuting that estimate, however.
“We are not aware of any problematic prostitution problems in the area,” said Inspector Michael Kemper, the commanding officer of the 76th Precinct, which protects residents in Carroll Gardens and Red Hook. “That being said, if anyone knows of any indoor or outdoor locations in our area, they should let us know.”
A review of arrests by this paper showed that each precinct in the borough makes a handful of arrests for prostitution each year, be it either street walkers or massage parlors offering services that aren’t on the menu.
In Sheepshead Bay’s 61st Precinct, for example, at least six people were arrested for prostitution back in 2007.
But the numbers of arrests have dropped considerably over the last few years, cops said.
“We don’t really have a prostitution problem here anymore,” said Captain Milt Marmara, the commanding officer of the 69th Precinct in Canarsie, which is just south of East New York. “I’ve spoken to many community members, and they told me that there was a prostitution problem here years and years ago, but it’s not an issue now.”
According to the State Department of Criminal Justice, 1,322 New Yorkers were arrested and charged with prostitution in 2007.
An additional 1,100 “Johns” were also arrested across the city last year, officials said.
Out of those numbers, 211 prostitutes and 347 Johns were arrested in Brooklyn.
The customers are often given a chance to go to “John School,” where they’re case is dismissed if they participate in an eye-opening lecture hosted by the Kings County District Attorney’s office about the horrors of the prostitution trade.
Prosecutors said that since 2002, 2218 Johns have gone through the program.
Only twelve have been re-arrested for solicitation, they said.
Last week, Queens Councilman Eric Gioia called on city prosecutors to “crack down on online prostitution advertisements on websites like Craiglist.org.”
He also encouraged prosecutors to “more strictly enforce prostitution solicitation laws.”
“The Internet is like the wild west,” he said. “There is little oversight, which enables prostitution rings to run virtually unchecked. The exploitation of women is moving from the sidewalks and brothels to cyberspace, with women often trafficked into the city for only a few days at a time.”
Gioia alleged that the “Erotic Services” section of Craigslist is a hotbed of loosely based prostitution ads and has become “an online clearing house for New York metro area prostitutes.”
The D.A.’s cases involving Craigslist.org included an undercover sting that led to the arrest of a 32-year-old Bay Ridge man who allegedly put out an add looking for the youngest girl he could find to have sex with.
Another involved a masseuse in Williamsburg who was raped by a customer who responded to her online add, prosecutors said.