July 17, 2008
Seattle city officials decided to pull the plug on the multimillion-dollar self-cleaning toilet stalls and instead put them on the auction site eBay with starting bids at $89,000 apiece. This action was taken as a result of reports given by neighbors and city-commissioned analysts that the unisex facilities attracted drug users and prostitutes, and were less cost-effective than regular public restrooms. The German-made automatic, high-tech toilets were installed in 2004 and have cost the city about $5 million. Each has handsfree washing and drying ability and an emergency button that automatically dials 911.
On May 19, a City Council vote to remove the problem toilets was cast. The automated doors on the impact- and graffiti-resistant toilets will close Aug. 1, said Andy Ryan, a spokesman for Seattle Public Utilities. The auction will last for 10 days, but as of Thursday morning, none of the toilets had received any bids.
May 14, 2008
Federal prosecutors have unsealed an indictment accusing Todd B. Barkau, 35, of New York state, and a 44-year-old woman of training the woman’s child to be a dominatrix, selling her sexual services and photographing some of the acts. U.S. Attorney John Wood said the case is unusual in that a parent has been charged with the commercial sex trafficking of his or her own young child. Having once lived together in Blue Springs, Missouri, the sex business was supposedly run.
“Barkau obtained control of a 12-year-old girl and he groomed, trained and forced her to become a sexual dominatrix,” the U.S. attorney said in Kansas City on Monday. The mother’s name is not being published to protect the identity of the daughter, now 20. Both suspects will likely be held in federal custody without bail, according to a motion filed by federal prosecutors.
The indictment says the training began in 2000, when the girl was only 12. It also says she was forced to engage in sex acts with him and with other men. According to the indictment, he also had the girl watch pornography on the Internet as a teaching tool. Further, Barkau used the internet to market the girl and her services for about two years. The mother is charged with encouraging and participating in the venture, the indictment says.
Prosecutors will reportedly seek $80,000 the couple is accused of having made through sex trafficking.
May 4, 2008
Ashley Massaro, one of the divas of the WWE, is part of an investigation the FBI is conducting into the Bella Models Escort Service in California and Florida. Details are vague, as the story is just beginning to come out now. According to Massaro’s MySpace page, she is contacting her lawyers right away saying, “Just got buzzed on some BS that is going around. Dont [sic] believe it for a second. Getting in touch with my lawyer as we speak”.