Sentence suspended in Web prostitution bid

The Baltimore Sun

A Pasadena husband and wife who offered her sexual services on a well-known Web site while she was pregnant won't serve any jail time, an Anne Arundel County judge ruled yesterday.

Jesse Woodrow Cornwell III, 32, and Diana Carmine Cornwell, 35, will be able to raise their 2-week-old baby themselves after being handed a one-year suspended jail sentence and three years' unsupervised probation.

Though prosecutors had urged incarceration, District Judge Joseph D. Legum decided against that because this was the first offense for the Cornwells.

Attorneys for the Cornwells said the couple took out an ad on Craigslist in March because an injury forced Jesse Cornwell out of work as a subcontractor and they needed money to care for their first child, a 2-year-old who has Down syndrome. The family received food stamps but did not qualify for other state assistance, the attorneys said.

Police, who frequently scour online classifieds sites for illegal solicitations, said the couple offered sex with a pregnant woman for $300.

As part of a prostitution sting, an undercover officer working with the vice unit responded to the ad and was greeted by Jesse Cornwell on April 2 at the family's home, where the couple was arrested.

Online classified sites, such as Craigslist, have become a burgeoning marketplace for prostitution. Colin Kelly, an assistant state's attorney, said that it's common for clients to arrange to meet prostitutes online at pre-bought hotel rooms.

"This is becoming a tremendous growing trend in this county," Kelly said.

Craigslist's Baltimore-area listings yesterday showed hundreds of entries offering sex, including two from men specifically seeking pregnant women and one from a pregnant woman seeking another woman. Those ads didn't make reference to money being exchanged.

The couple declined to comment after the hearing. Jesse Cornwell told the judge that he is back at work, "but we are just getting by."

Legum warned the Cornwells not to solicit sex for money again.

"You can guarantee we won't do that," Jesse Cornwell said.

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