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King County Cops Illegally Recorded Sex Stings

The good news? Many whose lives they tried to ruin are now off the hook.

Alex Milan Tracy/Sipa USA/NewscomAlex Milan Tracy/Sipa USA/NewscomDozens of Seattle-area prostitution cases have been dropped after police were found to have illegally recorded the stings that led to these arrests.

With "Operation On Demand," the zealous sex cops of King County, Washington, nabbed more than 100 men last August. It was one of the area's now-typical "john stings": Police pretending to be sex workers posted online ads and arrested the people they fooled.

To conduct the sting, detectives set up camp for an entire week in a downtown Bellevue condo, just outside Seattle.

Those arrested ranged "from an unemployed heroin user...all the way up to a radio DJ and some people who are vice presidents of companies, high-tech workers," Bellevue Police Department Captain Marcia Harnden bragged at the time. All were charged with patronizing a prostitute, a misdemeanor.

But charges against more than half of the 110 arrestees were just dropped. Police had recorded conversations between the undercover cops and their prospective customers, and under Washington state law it's illegal to make an audio recording of a conversation without the consent of all parties recorded.

Detectives had set up hidden cameras around the condo where the stings took place, supposedly intending to record only video. "Unfortunately, audio conversations were unintentionally captured between the suspect and the undercover officers in 61 of the 110 cases," the city said in a statement this week.

"We don't know where this malfunction occurred, we don't know if it was an operator or mechanical problems and that's what we're trying to triage right now," Bellevue Police Department Chief Steve Mylett told Seattle Weekly. "We don't know specifically where this will fall to but I can tell you I'm very convinced this was unintentional."

Bellevue police initially blamed the mistake on their partners in the King County Sheriff's Office.

Mylett has continued to insist in every interview that this operation was about stopping "human trafficking," even though no traffickers were caught, no victims existed, and the only people arrested were looking to pay a consenting adult for sexual companionship. "Rest assured, there will be future undercover operations such as this one to achieve our goal," he said.

Photo Credit: Alex Milan Tracy/Sipa USA/Newscom

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  • Crusty Juggler||

    "We don't know where this malfunction occurred, we don't know if it was an operator or mechanical problems and that's what we're trying to triage right now," Bellevue Police Department Chief Steve Mylett told Seattle Weekly. "We don't know specifically where this will fall to but I can tell you I'm very convinced this was unintentional."

    That concludes this week's episode of, "Steve Mylett: The Mentally Retarded Police Chief."

    "Rest assured, there will be future undercover operations such as this one to achieve our goal," he said.

    Someone has to interfere in the lives of an unemployed heroin user, a radio DJ, some people who are vice presidents of companies and high-tech workers, and that person is Steve Mylett: The Mentally Retarded Police Chief.

  • Robert||

    Why would they even use equipment w sound capability, rather than video-only cameras? Have sound video cameras gotten to be such a cheap stock item that it's more expensive to buy vid-only equipment? Like B&W film?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Why the fuck is it illegal to record audio without consent but not video?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    So that Steve Mylett can allegedly record video in various women's restrooms in the Bellevue area.

    That's what I heard.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Well, if you heard it then it is inadmissible.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Suggested alt text: "Pacific Blew."

  • Robert||

    Mylett has continued to insist in every interview that this operation was about stopping "human trafficking," even though no traffickers were caught, no victims existed, and the only people arrested were looking to pay a consenting adult for sexual companionship.


    Wait, doesn't that mean they could try to stop all commerce, because the goods could be made by human-trafficked workers?

  • Calidissident||

    Dunphy?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    It disgusts me. I work in Downtown Bellevue, and just the idea that people were trying to have SEX in my vicinity makes me fit to spit.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Mental note: BUCS is a spitter.

  • Sal Paradise||

    "Unfortunately, audio conversations were unintentionally captured"

    I'm sure. As punishment, paid vacations all around.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I wonder how much money was spent on getting 110 misdemeanors. By the law it's in the approximate same class of violations as jaywalking and littering. But thank god we have the thin blue line protecting society from a subclass of women trying to make money.

    Sew their vaginas shut and make them keep homes and push out babies is what I saw. Women making is money is 100% a channel towards the end-times.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Maybe the chief was jilted by a prostitute and now has it out for them? Or his mom dabbled? Somewhere, someone feels very strongly about prostitutes, and it's bound to spring from some deep personal psychological trauma.

  • Holmes IV||

    He's a cop. He doesn't like competition. He wants to be the only person paid to screw over the local population.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "We don't know specifically where this will fall to but I can tell you I'm very convinced this was unintentional."

    Maybe the solicitation was, too. No harm, no foul.

  • Juice||

    under Washington state law it's illegal to make an audio recording of a conversation without the consent of all parties recorded.

    And so the cops were punished in the exact same way someone who recorded them would be, right?

  • LarryA||

    And, of course, now that the charges have been dropped, the men who were arrested will have their reputations restored, all jobs lost and relationships ruined will be repaired, and whatever they spent on lawyers, bail, and other legal fees will be refunded, right?

    Right?

  • Holmes IV||

    This is why you always make it clear that you just want to take naked photos. No contact. No mutuality. No sex. Pictures only. You are an artist looking to take pics for practice and just need a model who doesn't charge an arm and a leg. How much for 20 min of your time?

    And then, after you get a couple of photos, renegotiate. You'll never get a cop who will go that far.

  • dantheserene||

    Will Steve Mylett will go the extra mile? Will he personally wear the stockings and high heels to get his man?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Why don't you hand them a boilerplate contract that says you're making a porno?

  • Marty Feldman's Eyes||

    While it's nice to see the state hoisted on its own petard, two-party consent laws need to die in a fire.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Mylett has continued to insist in every interview that this operation was about stopping "human trafficking," even though no traffickers were caught, no victims existed

    ENB, the "victims" are presumed to be the women in the hotel rooms. King County has a policy (which I'd presume you'd agree with) where they no longer arrest these immigrant women, but interview them and turn them loose, because they're trying to not treat them as the criminals.

    According to the local press wisdom, the Asian women in the condos were the victims and the traffickers were the men buying sex from them through the internet forums.

    I'm not saying I agree with all of the classifications, but that's the explanation.

  • Fuzzyedia||

    "ENB, the "victims" are presumed to be the women in the hotel rooms. King County has a policy (which I'd presume you'd agree with) where they no longer arrest these immigrant women, but interview them and turn them loose, because they're trying to not treat them as the criminals."

    Bullshit.

    King County has a policy of kicking in the doors to apartments and hancuffing half naked terrified immigrants while they scrounge around the room like pigs to find and steal every penny these women earned before forcing her homeless onto the strett so she is now indigant had has no choice but to return to prostitution and raise more money for the pimps over at the King County Sheriff Office and OPS.

    Pimps only take a percentage. What do you call thugs with guns who terrify, detain and steal every penny these women have earned? I believe that would qualify as Promoting 1 if they weren't hiding behind a badge.

    It's all good though. After they steal thousands of dollars from these women, they recommend them to an OPS class where they can get a whole $50 back in the form of a Target gift card personally handed to them by one of OPS leaders who pay themselves a 6 figure salary out of the money the stole from these women.

    Scum doesn't get any lower than that.

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