2 arrested for prostitution

An investigation into a theft took a turn Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper had not seen in his 10 years of serving with the department — two people were charged with prostitution.

Jon Taylor and Jessica Stanton are facing the charges in Marshall County connected with an incident in February. The police filing states Stanton engaged in a sex act in exchange for money for gasoline. The police filing for Taylor states he admitted the act took place.

Tupper said the prostitution charges were filed as a result of the theft investigation. If the latter had not occured, the other charges would not have followed.

“It is one of those crimes that is vastly underreported,” he said. “Especially in a community our size. People who are participating in these crimes largely do so in the shadows. It’s not out in the open. It’s not a crime that we commonly deal with here in Marshalltown.”

Prostitution in Marshalltown is an unusual occurrence, he said, but it is something people should be aware of.

Unlike what is depicted in movies or television shows, or what people might expect in larger cities, Tupper said prostitution in Marshalltown would look different.

“People are not congregating on a public street somewhere and cars are pulling up,” he said. “If prostitution is occurring in Marshalltown, oftentimes they are occurring out of someone’s home or in local motels.”

Tupper’s primary concern when encountered with cases of prostitution is whether or not it involves human trafficking. He said in this case, there was no trafficking and were two consenting adults. There was no evidence anyone was coerced or forced into the act.

Human trafficking is the fastest growing crime and something the Marshalltown Police Department is very concerned about. So far, the MPD has not had any confirmed human trafficking cases. There have been investigations into allegations.

The police department has placed a focus on human trafficking and officers have been trained to identify signs.

“That is my biggest concern, to make sure people are not being victimized in this devious way,” Tupper said. “In this case there was no human trafficking component, but I think it’s fair to say most people don’t sell their bodies willingly.”

Due to the close links between prostitution and human trafficking, Tupper said the latter is something that will be primary concern whenever the former occurs.

“That’s going to be the first thing we investigate to make sure there’s no human trafficking,” he said.

Tupper does not want anyone who is caught in human trafficking to be afraid of coming forward to the police department or asking for help from social service organizations. He does not want a prostitution charge to scare them away.

“It’s OK to come forward,” Tupper said. “We want to help those people. We don’t want them to be fearful of arrest because that would not be our goal in a trafficking investigation.”

Just because there have been no confirmed cases of human trafficking in Marshalltown, does not mean it is not happening here. Even though prostitution is closely tied with human sex trafficking, Tupper said human labor trafficking is more likely to occur in a community such as Marshalltown.

Marshalltown’s location on Highway 30, which has heavy traffic, and its proximity to Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Minneapolis can increase the susceptibility to trafficking.

“It does occur in Iowa and there have been significant arrests in Iowa and it is something we should all be aware of,” he said.

Tupper would like people to say something if they see something that does not seem right.

“Trust your gut instinct and call the police,” he said. “We will come out and investigate, and if it turns out to be nothing, we like those kind of calls. But if someone needs help, trust your gut instinct.”

Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 or lbradstream@timesrepublican.com.


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