From Abscam to “Johns”–Long Island stings always controversial

Posted at 7:08 PM, Jun 04, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-04 19:08:18-04

MANHASSET, New York (PIX11) – When PIX 11 went to the Manhasset, gated community that’s home to the oldest “john” accused in the Nassau County prostitution sting, we found sympathy from a female neighbor at The Chatham.

“It’s kind of mean,” said Adrienne Saporta, speaking of the publicizing of 79 year old Ivan Dochter’s photo, along with 103 other men charged with patronizing prostitutes.  “I don’t like to judge them.  It’s very judgmental.”

Dochter, a lawyer, and his wife haven’t been seen since the 104 photos were plastered all over television, newspapers, and the Internet on Monday, as District Attorney, Kathleen Rice, announced undercover officers had busted the men over a one-month period.   The suspected “johns” were recorded on hidden camera, in unnamed hotels, as they agreed to pay between $50 and $100 for sex.  The men worked in many different professions–and among those arrested were doctors, a financier, and a New York City fireman.

“Putting the johns on TV is mean,” added Saporta.  “Mean to thir families, their wives.  You don’t know why they’re going to these women.”

Videotaped “stings” on Long Island are nothing new.  In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, the FBI field office in Hauppauge, Long Island ran the Abscam operation, which recorded public officials accepting bribes–in some cases, from a man they believed was a Middle Eastern sheik.  A U.S. Senator from New Jersey–Harrson Williams–and five, other U.S. Congressmen–were eventually convicted in Abscam.

Undercover stings have also been used in terrorism investigations.

But Kathleen Rice’s decision to identify the accused johns  with names and photos, before trial, struck many–male and female–as unnecessarily hurtful to their wives and children.

She is not the first public official seeking to identify johns, who patronize an industry where many girls, teens and young women are trafficked against their will–or suffer from drug or psychological problems. Rice insisted johns need to be shamed, so they will stop funding a business that thrives, because of high demand for paid sex.

In 1979, then New York City Mayor, Ed Koch, told the city-owned WNYC to broadcast the names of men patronizing prostitutes in a program called “The John Hour”.  Only one episode ran, but Koch was not the person behind the decision to discontinue it.

It’s worth noting the NYPD arrested 186 johns in a single month–in January 2012–in an effort called “Operation Losing Proposition.”  BUT, the names of the johns were not publicized and no photos were released.  Defense attorneys for Rice angrily told PIX 11 Monday they will accuse Rice’s investigators of entrapment.  Not to mention humiliation.