The owner and two employees of a coast escort service say they're not guilty of prostiution. But the police officer who organized an undercover sting says the evidence will prove otherwise.
Business owner, Greg Hagerty, admits that some escort services are fronts for prostitution. But not his.
The undercover bust at several area hotels last Thursday resulted in 16 arrests, 14 women and two men, all facing charges of prostitution. Two of those women and their male boss are going public with a simple message: We're a legitimate business.
"I did not expect it to go this far," said Greg Hagerty, in the living room of his D'Iberville home.
Hagerty owns Caesar's Escorts and several other escort services. He makes his mostly female employees sign contracts that forbid them from trading sex for money. Hagerty says it's mostly companionship and company.
"I got girls that go on all kinds of calls and talk to people. I mean they provide services, not sexual favors. They do massages, dances. companionship, go gambling. They go walking on the beach with them," he explained.
"Everyone has this horrible stereotype of what escorts are," said Amanda Frierson, who's worked for Hagerty's escort service the past four months.
Despite their recent arrests, both caught undressed in a hotel room with undercover cameras rolling, Gloria Spencer and Amanda Frierson say they're not prostitutes.
"We did not touch each other. He did not touch us. We did not touch him. Or nothing. I don't see how it could be prostitution," said Spencer.
Both women admit to offering massages and nude dancing for money. But no sexual favors.
"I've walked in rooms where people were naked when I walk in. And I'm like, can I have my cancellation fee? And they say what's wrong? I say, I don't know what you're expecting, but that's not what I'm giving," Frierson said.
Legitimate or otherwise, escort services have a definite business presence on the coast. If you don't believe it, just pick up your phone book and look in the yellow pages. Under escort service you'll find 30 listings with 28 different phone numbers.
Police say they have plenty of evidence to prove the prostitution charges.
"It's been our experience that that's one of the major MO's of a prostitution operation, is to go through an escort service. Use an escort service as your legitimate front," said Pat Pope, with the Gulfport Police Department.
Hagerty admits that some escort services are fronts for prostitution, but not his. Pope says the evidence from the undercover sting will prove otherwise.