A 71-year-old Westport woman’s use of a Glastonbury hotel for alleged prostitution in January raises the question about the level of illegal sexual activities in other central Connecticut towns, including Berlin.
The woman was arrested after police say she arranged online to meet a man in a Glastonbury hotel and have sex with him for money.
The town of Berlin has a long history of providing adult entertainment to the region, particularly along the Berlin Turnpike. These days, there is only one adult club left, Centerfolds.
"If you compare the Berlin Turnpike from now to 25 years ago it is like night and day," Berlin Assistant Chief of Police John Klett said. "It is 100 percent better and safer. It used to be thought of as seedy motels all through Berlin but we do patrols through all the motels to look for stolen cars and wanted persons. And many of those hotels have permanent residents living in them now."
The 71-year-old was caught in Glastonbury after posting an ad on a website called www.backpage.com. It is a typical buy-and-sell website similar to Craigslist. Under the section labeled Adults, there is a subsection titled "Escorts."
There are multiple advertisements for "escorts" listing "in-call" service to Berlin and Rocky Hill. All of the posts included photos.
Patch found that while there were many posts that listed Berlin or Berlin Turnpike as the escorts' home base, the actual locations were on the Berlin Turnpike in Newington at hotels including the Carrier Inn and the Grantmoor Motor Lodge, or in Meriden. None of the posters were actually working out of a Berlin hotel. Of course, that doesn't mean that none do.
"A few years ago we did a sting on the Berlin Turnpike where we had a female undercover officer walk the street and we made five or six arrests in a short time frame," John Klett said. "We use the same methodology that most police forces do to combat prostitution. We go on that website as well as others. We get some complaints of women walking the turnpike but I don't think we have had one in over a year. When we look at those sites, we see Berlin Turnpike too but in reality they are in Newington and Meriden."
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Patch texted the posters on backpage.com to see if this was indeed for prostitution and the women on the other end of the texts replied that it was. They asked if the Patch caller was a member of law enforcement and when assured no, the women proceeded to say how things worked.
Patch talked to two women at length by both text and phone and neither was afraid of the police.
One said she was a 21-year-old from Rhode Island named Mya. She said she comes to the Comfort Inn in Wethersfield twice a month and makes $1,000 to $1,500 on a Friday and Saturday. She charges $150 for a half hour and $250 for a full hour. The services included in either session are up for discussion, she said.
Another woman who spoke to Patch said she was named Veronica. She said she was 26 and lives in Massachusetts. She said she usually comes to the same Comfort Inn for a couple weeks at a time. She said in a good week, she can make $3,000, maybe more, and she is always busy. She said Connecticut is an easy location because there are a lot of travelers who know of the website and there is little threat of police making arrests.
Patch parked at the Carrier Inn in Newington on a recent Wednesday afternoon, where several women on backpage.com said they worked. In a half-hour, several men pulled into the parking lot, got out of their cars, checked their phones and eventually disappeared into a room. The room numbers are hard to see, so most of them wandered around trying to find the room they were looking for. A Newington police car drove through the parking lot but never stopped.
After talking to the two women, Mya and Veronica, on the phone, Patch decided to go to the Wethersfield Comfort Inn on a Friday night. According to the women, the fourth floor is inhabited by prostitutes. In the lobby, people checked in and came in to get ice.
In addition, upwards of a dozen men from midnight until 1 a.m. entered the hotel and rode the elevator to the fourth floor.
At about 12:30 a.m., blaring music from inside rooms could be heard in the fourth floor hallway, and there was the smell of marijuana and cigarette smoke.
Patch called Comfort Inn and asked if they had any problems with prostitution and the young man at the front desk seemed shocked by what Patch related to him.
"There hasn't been a problem or any complaints about this to my knowledge," he said. "None of the guests have complained and there have been no incidents here. Thank you for telling us about the website and I will relay that my manager. We don't want that especially if they are saying they are staying at our hotel."
Patch also called Carrier Inn and the person who answered said there has not been a problem with prostitution at the hotel. When asked if she knew that people on the website were saying they were working out of the Carrier Inn, she said, "No, I actually didn't."
She said they have permanent residents and rent rooms by the week and by the day. When asked if they rented for short stays, she said, "Some people rent for the day but don't stay the whole day."
When asked if there was anything they do to make sure there is not prostitution going on, she said she would call back. She never did.