Controversy Over Cops Shaming Johns Busted for Prostitution Solicitation

Earlier today, we told you about Broncos practice-squad player Ryan Murphy being sent home from the Super Bowl after he was questioned in regard to the investigation of a prostitution sting.

Although Murphy wasn't cited for a crime, his name has now been linked with prostitution due to the Broncos/Super Bowl connection — a situation with which four Colorado Springs men can relate.

The quartet — Christopher Turner, Joseph Sazenski, Charles Freeman and Pervez Sagarwala — were all convicted of soliciting prostitution, after which the Colorado Springs Police Department posted their photos on the CSPD Facebook page and distributed them to media organizations such as this one "in the hopes of reducing the demand for commercialized sex," according to a release.

Does this kind of public shaming work? Plenty of those commenting on the CSPD's posts have their doubts.

The tactic isn't new for the CSPD. In April 2015, as we reported, the department publicly shamed six johns in the same way, for the same reasons.

"Controversy continues to swirl in many quarters about the law-enforcement approach to prostitution," we wrote at the time, adding that "some people feel it's a victimless crime that police should treat as such rather than wasting resources on what is essentially a moral crusade," while "others believe arrests and stings are a worthwhile way to fight human trafficking, disrupt the mistreatment and exploitation of the individuals (mostly women) in the trade, and slow the coarsening of societal values, as long as the authorities don't ignore the people (usually men) who solicit such services."

Similar points were bandied about among CSPD Facebook followers.

Several of those posting were happy about the department's approach.

Here are several examples:

"Thank you for naming them and showing their faces."

"They all have that scowl on their play you pay!! Thanks CSPD Task Force!!"

"Thank you for punishing them, and helping the victims."


But there was plenty of push-back as well, as seen in these comments:

"Why is such info public and broadcast? Is this a shame game? Can they not handle their business with law in private? There are child sex/slave traffickers taking advantage of the Syrian immigrants, and 10,000 children missing... could we focus our attention, priorities, time and energy on helping each other??"

"Shaming for the intent of stigimitizing and labeling is cruel and inhumane. It leads to alienation and actually makes increases crime."

"They should shame all the DUI's this way instead. At least driving drunk could kill people, these guys just wanted to get laid."

"A new low for the CSPD. I agree with most of the comments above. Show pictures of those who got DUIs. And show pictures of the wife beaters. And show pictures of child abusers. And show pictures of animal abusers. They are all more dangerous than than the pvs shown above."

Adds another commenter: "This shame game cost a friend of mine his job, 9 months after the conviction."

And the debate continues....

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts