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Super Bowl Spurs Sex Trade: Myth or Reality?

According to a rash of recent news reports, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers aren't the only ones going to Texas in pursuit of high-paying, potentially dangerous physical activity this Sunday.

Some reports, quoting local police, state law enforcement officials and local women's organizations and religious groups, predict that the Dallas-Fort Worth area will be awash in prostitutes and their would-be clients during the run-up to Super Bowl Sunday. Some advocacy groups express particular concern that many of the sex workers at such high-profile sporting events are underage and are brought in against their will. At a January meeting, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott called the Super Bowl "one of the biggest human trafficking events in the United States."

But not everybody is convinced. Pete Kotz, in a piece published in The Dallas Observer, notes that a local police sergeant's prediction of between 50,000 and 100,000 prostitutes possibly descending on the region for the Super Bowl would mean that "every man, woman and child holding a ticket would have their own personal hooker, from the vice presidential wing of FedEx to Little Timmy from Green Bay."

Kotz went on to check with authorities in Tampa, Fla., and Phoenix, to see if they noticed a surge in prostitution when the Super Bowl was held in their cities. The reply in both cases: No.

A Dallas-Fort Worth TV station reported similar remarks from police in Phoenix, Tampa and Miami. Phoenix police said they had received warnings to prepare for an increase in prostitution before the big game, but police subsequently found no evidence of a spike in illegal sexual activity.

In addition, Kotz checked out the arrest numbers for the 2006 World Cup, and reports finding a total of just five arrests for forced prostitution.

(Meanwhile, Village Voice Media Group -- the publisher of the Dallas Observer, Miami New Times and other news weeklies -- has recently come under fire, as a result of a CNN report tracking sex ads on websites like backpage.com, which is owned by the Village Voice Media Group. During an investigation of allegations [video] that backpage.com facilitates the pimping of underage girls, CNN says it "found cases of underage girls sex trafficked all over the country, from the suburbs of Washington to Las Vegas, where a 13-year-old girl was sold on backpage last fall, according to law enforcement authorities." CNN notes that backpage.com's blog says the company is taking steps to clean up the site, partly by reviewing ads in an attempt to screen out minors.)

Dueling statistics and conflicting conclusions aside, some professionals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area apparently remain at the ready, just in case. Try Googling "Super Bowl prostitution," and you may spy high up in your search results a link for a particular law firm Web page that reads: "NFL Super Bowl Prostitution Defense Attorney."

Written by Law.com managing editor Paula Martersteck.

Posted by Laurel Newby on February 4, 2011 at 05:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

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