AG's Office aware of online prostitution - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

AG's Office aware of online prostitution

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 by Jolene Toves

Guam - While these days most of us do mostly everything online, there is one corner of the Internet that many people don't know exists. And even for those that do acknowledge and safely use dating sites and online classified services, many steer clear of the more suspect ones due to their growing reputations for being fronts for illegal solicitation, otherwise known as prostitution.

We now examine some of the very dangerous repercussions that can ensue when people use the web for purposes that are a little too social.

The Internet has much to offer but at times it may offer and solicit too much. With a click or a tap, a user can avail themselves of a wide range of services - and it is no surprise that sex is one of them.

As a matter of fact, a quick search of the classifieds platforms Craigslist or Backpage, you can find several people from Guam and the Marianas searching for love, offering personal services and massages. Such categories include searching for same-sex "hookups", swinging, group sex, infidelity - and these are only the ones we can safely read on the air. The issue is whether this is prostitution or genuinely arrangements that are mutually-consensual.

According to Guam Attorney General Leonardo Rapadas his office is aware of what's happening online, and whether the solicitation occurs on the corner of a street or disguised as an advertisement seeking companionship or offering escort services, it is still punishable by law. "But as long as all of the elements are elements that we can prove in Guam and occur in Guam then these are cases that we can charge we are aware of craigslist and we are aware of that being used in many, many cases locally," he explained.  In general however, according to Rapadas, proving that online prostitution has occurred is not a simple task as many advertisements for such services masquerade in sections such as casual encounters, or personals.

Chief prosecutor Basil O'Mallan said, "That's where GPD would have to step in and complete their investigation determine well they said it was only an escort service or it was only for companionship but money was exchanged and that would require the GPD investigation to find out what was really going on."

O'Mallan says other websites such as PeopleFromGuam.com and ChatGuam were taken offline as the website morphed into sites where online prostitution services were rampant.

Meanwhile Rapadas says attorneys general from across the country have  had discussions with individuals that have set up these sites and have been successful in getting them to clean them up.

He adds that many sites are legitimate businesses, but are not aware that they're also being used for soliciting sex.

But despite cooperation by the website creators, Rapadas says online prostitution is a nationwide problem and one that won't easily be rid of. While he says it is something that gets rooted up fairly quickly like any enterprise something new will pop up to take its place.

"The people who are purveyors of this try as they might they will get caught it's just a matter of time now where the prosecution occurs depends on where the best evidence is where the evidence takes us it may occur we may have citizens on Guam who are soliciting in somewhere in Colorado and vice versa so again we have cooperation with other law enforcement entities and territories so if it happens we will be able to lure them out, so the message is don't do it. That's just the bottom line - don't do it," he said.

But the legal ramifications are not the only danger posed by engaging in online prostitution as Rapadas says, "Time and time again young girls and boys who find themselves having to do this not knowing who is on the other side a lot of times end up disappearing. You read about this happening elsewhere but that's something we don't want to happen here" and for that reason the Attorney General's Office and local law enforcement are tasked with keeping a watchful eye on these sites. 

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