ST. GEORGE — Two women got more than they had bargained for Thursday night when they allegedly showed up in St. George to engage in prostitution but met with undercover detectives who instead arrested them.
At approximately 10:40 p.m., the St. George Police Department and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office culminated an ongoing investigation into two women who were allegedly soliciting prostitution services in the St. George area via social media and websites commonly used to solicit sex acts in exchange for money.
The women, later identified as 23-year-old Jetalia Ashlie Fairley and 21-year-old Odrey Brashay Poole, both of Las Vegas, were contacted by phone and negotiations for sex acts in exchange for money were made, according to probable cause statements filed by St. George Police detectives in support of the arrests.
Investigators learned the women were working out of a room at the Rodeway Inn located at 999 E. Red Hills Parkway in St. George.
Contact was made with the women at the motel. According to the statement of probable cause, Fairley admitted she and Poole traveled to St. George from Las Vegas to engage in prostitution services together.
“Jetalia had spoken with an undercover detective to have sex with her and her friend, Odrey, for a monetary fee,” the arresting detective wrote in the statement. “She arranged and paid for the room for the two of them to work out of. She also explained that both her and Odrey had already seen multiple clients over the past day and had engaged in sex acts for money.”
Both women admitted to offering and engaging in prostitution services while they were in St. George, the statement said, and both women confessed to offering the undercover detective sex acts for money.
These types of cases are not as simple or as black and white as some people would think, St. George Police Sgt. Johnny Heppler said.
“There’s always much more to the story on these cases than meets the eye,” he said, “and the work that we do in that field is saving lives and is saving people from that industry that don’t want to be involved in it.”
Unfortunately, Heppler said, the public only sees the individuals who get booked on charges.
“They don’t see the girls that we identify that are actually victims of human trafficking because we don’t book them into jail,” he said. “We go out and we do this kind of work and we identify juveniles that are in the sex trade and we identify women that are involuntarily involved in the sex trade.”
Heppler added that the average age of entry into prostitution in the United States is between 14 and 15 years old.
“Can you legally consent to that type of work as a juvenile? Absolutely not,” Heppler said, adding that as a society, we have no problem recognizing that, but what people don’t realize is “these are our runaways – these are our kids that get addicted to drugs at a young age.”
“And they go and they find, they get into a relationship with a pimp and things go sideways from there,” he said. “Maybe they either get completely brainwashed into thinking that it’s normal or they are held in confinement or they are browbeaten and completely controlled and forced into the industry to the point where they feel that it’s just normal.”
Heppler likened the situation to domestic violence or to someone who is in an abusive relationship where the abuser has psychological and sometimes physical control over that person.
“Our goal on every investigation that we do,” Heppler said, “is to try and catch an abuser and to try and rescue somebody from that lifestyle.”
Both Fairley and Poole were arrested and booked into the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility.
Fairley was charged with a third-degree felony for exploiting a prostitute, a class A misdemeanor for not having a license required for massage practice, and class B misdemeanor for sexual solicitation.
Fairley’s class A misdemeanor charge stems from her ad including offers for massage services in exchange for money, violating the Utah Massage Therapy Act as she is not a licensed or certified massage therapist.
Judge G. Michael Westfall, of the 5th District Court, ordered $5,000 bail for Fairley’s release pending trial. She was found indigent by the court during her initial court appearance Friday and will be represented by court-appointed attorney Michael Lastowski. She has since been released on bail.
Poole was charged with a class B misdemeanor for sexual solicitation. She was released from custody on $680 bail. Her court arraignment is currently scheduled for Oct. 30.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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