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Cops Out HIV-Positive Woman to Neighbors and Media

"Around the corner, there's a family neighborhood that's decorated for Christmas," a local television station reports while airing her photo.

Broken Arrow Police Department/FacebookBroken Arrow Police Department/FacebookEvery time I think sex policing cannot hit a new low, the news delivers something like this story out of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. After an arrested woman informed the police that she was HIV-positive, the cops decided to broadcast this information—along with her full name and photo—to all the local TV news stations. They also left letters on the subject on about 50 cars parked near her place of employment.

The 40-year-old woman was arrested after a November sting on a massage parlor where she worked. The parlor's male owner was booked for procuring prostitution and for possession of a firearm while in the commission of a felony, and he has since been released on bail. The woman, who remains in the Tulsa Jail on a $5,000 bond, was booked for prostitution—a charge that was later dismissed—and knowingly spreading an infectious disease.

Yet police present no evidence that she engaged in unprotected sex with customers—nor, for that matter, that she had sexual intercourse with them at all. They say they got a search warrant and raided the massage parlor based on a tip from a concerned neighbor, online ads that featured scantily clad women, and info from a confidential informant who had posed as a prospective employee. Police encountered the arrested woman for the first time during this raid, when they found her in a massage room with a naked customer.

Notably, the customer did not say he was paying this woman for sexual intercourse, merely what the cops call "a sex act"—generally, police speak for oral sex or hands-on genital stimuation. And detectives have no record of her offering to have sexual intercourse, with or without a condom, with anyone.

But let's say, from a public health and abundance-of-caution perspective, that it makes sense for officials to warn city residents and encourage them to get tested. Why couldn't they have simply noted that an employee at the raided massage parlor was HIV-positive? Public health concerns must be balanced with a respect for privacy and due process. And there's simply no way that a local publicity tour with this woman's identity and image is necessary to achieve any public health aims. (Indeed, if the aim is to encourage the institution's customers to get tested for the virus, narrowly focusing on one employee will be counterproductive.)

Naturally, the TV stations that broadcast this woman's picture and HIV status do not share such ethical qualms: They put the woman's name and photo in segments that now live forever online. The reporters seemed less interested in questioning the cops' story than in expressing shock that prostitution could possibly exist in their town. "There are two schools on the next block, and just around the corner, there's a family neighborhood that's decorated for Christmas," Charles Ely reported at the local ABC affiliate, assuring us that these "crimes just don't fit Broken Arrow."

Meanwhile, 9News.com simply gave up on any pretense of not being a police propaganda outlet, running supposed details about the story with the end disclaimer that they were "provided by law enforcement with the request News 9 inform the public" and "News 9 can make no independent verification of the accuracy of the information."

Photo Credit: Broken Arrow Police Department/Facebook

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Manwhile, 9News.com simply gave up on any pretense of not being a police propaganda outlet...

    Props for the typo, but you can't expect local news to alienate police departments. If they couldn't parrot what police blotters say, they'd actually have to do some journalism to fill air.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    The damn constitution (NOT A SUICIDE PACT) probably stops us stapling deep red letters to women's chests. What do you expect them to do ENB? They had literally no other options.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "The woman, who remains in the Tulsa Jail on a $5,000 bond, was booked for prostitution—a charge that was later dismissed—and knowingly spreading an infectious disease.

    Yet police present no evidence that she engaged in unprotected sex with customers—nor, for that matter, that she had sexual intercourse with them at all. They say they got a search warrant and raided the massage parlor based on a tip from a concerned neighbor, online ads that featured scantily clad women, and info from a confidential informant who had posed as a prospective employee."

    Or, another way of stating this: The cops obtained a search warrant based on three pieces of evidence: a tip, the massage parlor advertising itself as a sexual service, and by way of another informant.

    That was only the evidence presented for the warrant. We don't know what evidence they obtained in the raid.

    However, there was evidence that the place was engaged in prostitution--and there was evidence that she was working there as a "masseuse".

  • Ken Shultz||

    One of the best aspects of drug legalization is that licensed retailers are far more scrupulous in refusing to sell cannabis to minors. Black market sellers far less so--might even sell in your local junior high.

    I suppose a good argument for legalizing prostitution is licensing brothels and screening out underage workers and sex workers who are HIV positive, too. I doubt the legal brothels in Nevada employ HIV positive sex workers any more than the restaurants knowingly hire people typhoid. I bet they require testing.

    Individual police are doing the community a good service if they're exposing an HIV positive sex worker in a massage parlor. The liability ramifications aside, the police may have a moral obligation to let people know that a sex worker is HIV positive.

    Incidentally, an HIV positive massage therapist should probably inform clients that they are HIV positive before they get a massage--especially if they have a lot of piercings, etc. Meanwhile, I don't think it's ethical for an HIV positive person to receive a massage without informing the massage therapist beforehand. If you lie on the intake form about your HIV status, far as I'm concerned, that's fraud.

  • Zeb||

    The porn industry, which is similar to prostitution in many ways, is pretty scrupulous about regularly testing for disease, as I understand it. I'm sure legal brothels in NV are as well. I would imagine pretty much anyone offering legal sexual services would to the same. And a law requiring it wouldn't be the worst thing.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Yes, Nevada brothels require some pretty strict and frequent STD testing.

    That said, you seem sorely misinformed on both how HIV is transmitted and what goes on during a massage if you think it matters.

  • Ken Shultz||

    It isn't about whether I think it matters.

    It's about whether the customer or the masseuse thinks it matters.

  • An Non||

    HIV can be transmitted by body fluid transfer. If there's a risk of it, all involved parties should be aware.

    That said: if there's a risk of that happening during a non-euphemistic massage session, both parties deserve to have prior warning regardless of HIV status.

  • Wally||

    Could this be a HIPPA violation? She provided the police with confidential medical info so she cold receive proper care while in custody. Shoulda just spat on them.

  • ipsquire||

    No, and it's HIPAA, which applied to doctors/insurers, not cops.

  • PaulTheBeav||

    If you're HIV positive, seems like you should probably find a career that doesn't involve touching people all the time.

    What happens when her hang-nail touches my shaving nick? I don't care to find out.

  • Teddy Pump||

    More importantly what happens when her hang-nail touches your unshaven dick?

  • Eidde||

    If she was charged with spreading HIV, then the fact of her infection would necessarily be in the public documents.

    Which brings me to a problem with the media in all crime stories, not just sex stories.

    Whether through laziness or pro-cop bias, the media will publicize your arrest and the charges, maybe adding some spicy quotes from police sources ("'the shocking crime by this shockingly guilty person is shocking,' said Chief Cochon"), but don't seem to go to the trouble of looking deeper until later when they cover the trial (and there probably isn't a trial in most cases).

    The media Web site should constantly print UPDATES on the page reporting the arrest, recording the process of the trial, statement by arrestee or lawyer about the crime, or even (gasp!) original research by reporters.

  • Chuck in CR||

    "constantly print UPDATES on the page reporting the arrest"

    sounds like a twitter feed... plus there would be no going back and wiping, like with a cloth, a previous statement.

    I like what you did with the Chief.

  • Ron||

    there's a family neighborhood that's decorated for Christmas,

    When i was a kid our family neighborhood had two house of ill repute within a block. If they were out when i walked by they'd always talk, nice ladies and they always invited us in on halloween. good memories

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    So in your case the trick was the treat.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    The CDC lists the relative risk of transmitting HIV from various activities. The risk of getting HIV from a blow job is so low that the CDC does not quantify it. I wouldn't worry at all about getting HIV from a massage.


    On a side note, the people working at the CDC who made that table do not know that probabilities must be between 0 and 1, but it's all good if you consider those numbers likelihoods.

  • An Non||

    It's not reporting the probabilities. It's reporting--and it's very clear about this--the cumulative risk per 10,000 exposures.

    That would be, roughly, how many times you'd get infected if you do this 10,000 times without protection with an HIV+ partner. It's not meant to actually be giving you an idea of the risk, especially since it leaves out all sorts of modifiers (oral is likely assuming no cuts on either party), it is meant to be bringing home the fact that if you roll the dice enough times, you're going to lose, and it's likely to happen sooner with some things.

    Also, if the probability of something is not zero, then it WILL happen, given sufficient time and/or attempts. The question is merely if sufficient time/attempts will happen.

  • Governor Squid||

    Yes, but at a certain point you're more likely to be killed in a car accident driving to your "clean" masseuse than you are to be infected by the dirty girl next door.

    Humans really suck at risk assessment.

  • tommhan||

    Yeah I guess they ruined her reputation.

  • Marty Feldman's Eyes||

    The reporters seemed less interested in questioning the cops' story than in expressing shock that prostitution could possibly exist in their town.

    And this is why we can't have nice things.

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