Thursday, June 20, 2002

Street near Aronoff among hooker 'hot spots'

By Jane Prendergast,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        One of the most popular spots for prostitutes in Cincinnati is steps away from the Aronoff Center for the Arts and the city's only five-star restaurant.

        The intersection of Sixth and Walnut streets, between the Aronoff and the Maisonette, is the only downtown location listed on a new report to City Council about prostitution “hot spots” in the city.

        Cincinnati Police said it's long been known as a spot where male prostitutes solicit.

        Both the department's vice unit and a Violent Crimes Squad monitor that corner, said Capt. Greg Snider, district commander.

        But the prostitution hasn't been a problem for the Aronoff, said Van Ackerman, spokesman for the Cincinnati Arts Association.

        “It's not affecting us at all,” Mr. Ackerman said. “We've gotten no complaints about it.”

        In the report to City Council's law committee, City Manager Valerie Lemmie listed these other prostitution “hot spots”:

        • Over-the-Rhine: Parts of Vine, Walnut, Liberty, and East and West McMicken streets.

        • Walnut Hills: The intersections of East McMillan and Boone streets, Lincoln Street and Gilbert Avenue.

        • Northside: The intersection of Hamilton and Chase avenues.

        • West End: The intersection of Findlay and Linn streets.

        Cincinnati police made 237 prostitution arrests — including buyers and sellers — between January and May this year, compared with 800 in all of 2001.

        The department stages prostitution busts where undercover officers pose as hookers to arrest clients, Lt. Byrd said, and those will continue.

        Many of the customers are from the Cincinnati suburbs, authorities say.

        Officer Keith Fangman on Monday stopped a 54-year-old Norwood man at 3 a.m. for driving along Vine Street without his headlights. The man admitted he was cruising for a prostitute.

        Ms. Lemmie's report was prompted by complaints from residents of Baum Street in Mount Adams, who videotaped sexual acts between prostitutes and clients.

        In response to those complaints, Councilman David Crowley, who owns a bar in Mount Adams, last week made a motion asking the police department to investigate prostitution and report back.

        Publicity about the Baum Street complaints made it seem as if Mount Adams has a prostitution problem — it doesn't, Lt. Byrd said.

        Rather, prostitutes get picked up elsewhere and choose a secluded location where they think they won't be seen. Baum Street won't be popular for long, he said, now that police are focusing on it.


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