Dayton police made 28 prostitution-related arrests as part of their annual Johns Week initiative last week, including one arrest on suspicion of human trafficking – only the second such case for Dayton Police in the past two years.
Michael A. Miller, 36, of Xenia Twp. was arrested at an Englewood hotel after police investigated an advertisement for an escort service on the web site backpage.com.
Police said Miller was prostituting a local 26-year-old woman against her will, adding that the pair had known each other for a matter of weeks.
“The case started out like most others, where we’re looking into someone who’s selling themselves, in this case on the Internet,” Dayton Police Lt. Joseph Wiesman said. “As we made contact with the person, through interviews, we were able to determine that this person … was being forced to do this.”
The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office approved charges of trafficking in persons and promoting prostitution against Miller, according to spokesman Greg Flannagan, who added that the case will soon be scheduled for the grand jury.
The trafficking charge is a first-degree felony, which carries a sentence of up to 11 years in prison. Dayton’s trafficking case last year resulted in Thuron Hammersley of Fairborn being sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison.
Just three weeks ago, Miller was indicted on a felony burglary charge, stemming from a Nov. 8 incident in Miamisburg, but he failed to appear in court Jan. 30.
Dayton police arrested 15 “johns” between Jan. 23 and Jan. 31, citing the men for misdemeanor solicitation. They also arrested eight women on charges of solicitation or prostitution, plus three men and one woman on felony charges of promoting prostitution.
Dayton Police Sgt. Chris Fischer said the promoting prostitution charge can apply to a traditional “pimp” who takes a portion of the prostitute’s earnings, or to someone who helps the prostitute advertise services or drives them to tricks.
Wiesman said Dayton police actually had fewer arrests during this Johns Week than last year.
“A lot of things have moved to the Internet, and they’re not as easily identifiable as prostitutes simply walking the streets,” he said. “Now we have to do a little more homework to come up with the arrests. Even though our numbers are down, it’s still a very large problem.”
Fischer said most of last week’s johns were employed, some with six-figure salaries, and came from Springfield, Richmond or other surrounding cities “so they wouldn’t run into people they knew.”
Besides the obvious issue of helping women escape cycles of drugs and abuse, Fischer and Wiesman offered two arguments to those who say prostitution should be ignored. Fischer pointed out that 14 of the 15 johns Dayton police arrested last week are married, only two of them brought condoms, and Dayton has 53 known HIV-positive prostitutes, meaning the men might be putting their unsuspecting wives at risk.
Wiesman added that nearly every prostitute Dayton arrests has a drug problem, meaning the johns’ money is supporting drug dealers.