Woman charged with running a brothel

The Baltimore Sun

On a now-defunct Web site, www.wiggleandsquirm.com, a woman known as "Magical Lizzy" advertised services ranging in price from $205 to $280, promoted three other women's escort services and offered an elaborate online protocol to schedule appointments at an apartment in suburban Anne Arundel County, police said.

Suggestive double-entendres were used to market "full effect 'companionship.'"

Yesterday, police announced the results of a monthlong investigation: the arrest of a Laurel woman on charges of running a "sexual enterprise."

Elizabeth A. Harrison, 35, of the 3500 block of Sharon Wood Road in the Russett community, was arrested Feb. 28, after officers arranged a 60-minute session with an escort on the Web site who called herself "Aimee Sweet," a brunette exposing her breasts and buttocks, according to charging documents filed in county District Court.

Efforts to reach Harrison yesterday were unsuccessful.

Harrison's arrest mirrors that of Brandy M. Britton, who was charged in January 2006 with running a prostitution business out of her upscale Ellicott City home. A once-promising sociologist, Britton committed suicide in January 2007, days before her trial was set to begin.

Prostitution through escort services conducted in private residences is much more difficult than street work for police to intercept, said Ronald Weitzer, a sociology professor at George Washington University and editor of a book on the sex industry. Weitzer estimates that 80 percent of prostitution is in private residences.

"The Web has become a much bigger vehicle for certain kinds of workers to advertise," Weitzer said. "Whether they're independent workers, or escort services, it's really opened up a world of opportunities in contacting clients and advertising. The potential client can go and peruse and see photographs, and short biographies on the workers, and can have some interaction."

In an apparent effort to stymie detection, the Web site required clients to use a business e-mail when setting up an account, according to charging documents. Prospective johns were instructed to schedule an appointment on the site, which would subsequently send the client an automated confirmation. A second e-mail sent the same day required an immediate response. The day of the visit, clients were sent an e-mail containing a telephone number to call for directions.

A neighbor in the Russett development off busy Route 198, where the prostitution is alleged to have occurred, tipped off police after seeing men and women visiting an apartment on Holly Creek Drive at all hours, according to charging documents. LaQuesha Ruffin, a leasing coordinator for the development, declined to comment.

On Feb. 28, an undercover Anne Arundel County police detective arrived at the apartment and met "Aimee Sweet," who was dressed in a "see-through pink lace top and a pair of panties," and led the officer to the front bedroom of the apartment, and returned a short time later with a bottle of massage oil, according to charging documents.

The woman became nervous when he asked about how to pay her and she brought him a phone.

"I spoke with Lizzy and she indicated that I was not to talk about the money and for me to just lay it on a counter and enjoy myself with her," the officer said, according to the documents.

That's when the detective gave the signal for other officers to swoop in.

nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

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