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Attorney hired in prostitution case

July 16, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Martinsburg attorney said Tuesday that parallels exist between a local case involving alleged prostitution and a recent Supreme Court decision that legalized gay sex between consenting adults.

Attorney Kevin Mills was hired Tuesday to represent Susan Powell, 41, of West King Street in Martinsburg. Police, who allege Powell ran a prostitution ring from the Economy Inn on Winchester Avenue, charged her with misdemeanor counts of keeping/maintaining a prostitution ring/business and deriving support/maintenance from a prostitute.

Mills said his client is innocent. "I don't think that there is prostitution present in this case," Mills said in a phone interview. "She's not guilty of any criminal misconduct."

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Police disagree.

A five-page affidavit filed in Berkeley County Magistrate Court alleges that Powell interviewed a potential employee - who was a police informant - and detailed what she would have to do with clients. During the interview, which occurred in Powell's home, Powell told the informant that she takes $40 from each 30-minute, $90 session and $65 from each 60-minute, $150 session, according to allegations in the affidavit. Powell also answered questions about what to do if an employee was on her menstrual cycle, the use of condoms and whether employees ever get to leave with clients, records allege.

"Since she has only recently been charged and has not yet even been to court for an initial hearing, it is quite difficult to defend herself in the court of public opinion," Mills wrote in a press release. "However, since there has been such prominent print and radio media coverage, I would point out that the United States Supreme Court has just this term again recognized the rights of privacy of consenting adults to freely associate."

Since the Supreme Court ruled that government authorities should not intrude in people's homes, taxpayer money should not be spent on the case, Mills said.

"A costly and time-consuming investigation of Mrs. Powell or any of her alleged business associates would seem to be a waste of time, taxpayer money, and limited enforcement resources," he wrote in the release.

Powell will not comment until the case reaches court, Mills said.

A single mother and an Eastern Panhandle resident for 20 years, Powell has three children - an 8-year-old, a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old, Mills said.

Also charged in the case was Economy Inn owner Surendra "Sam" Singh, 50. Police allege he received either money or sexual favors in return for allowing the ring to operate from his motel. Singh was charged with misdemeanor counts of operating a house of ill fame and receiving support from prostitution.

Mills said he does know which attorney is representing Singh.

Powell and Singh posted $10,000 bond each, and both were released earlier this month from Eastern Regional Jail, a spokesman there said.

No hearing date has been set for either case.

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