Amy is a sex worker who was recently the victim of a sexual assault. She wants you to know that the guy who allegedly attacked her seems to be targeting sex workers—and she's afraid his actions are only going to get worse.
Amy, which is not her real name, told the Tucson Weekly that the night when it happened, a couple of months ago, was a typical work night. She got an e-mail from a new client through her online ad. He agreed to her requirement that they first meet in a public space.
They met behind a Circle K off Kinney Road.
"It seemed safe at first. It was well-lit, and there were security cameras," she said. "We talked about what he wanted, and then he had me follow him."
She followed him up Kinney Road, and then drove through the entrance of a remote desert property. The client had specific requests—that she wear a bikini and walk toward him wearing the swimsuit.
"I left all my stuff in the car—my clothes, purse, lube and condoms," she said. "Then he just rushed me ... and threw me on the hood of his car."
He ripped off her bikini, and she began to struggle while also trying to remain calm, worried that he'd get more violent. She told him to put on a condom, but he refused and held her down. She wriggled more and ended up on the ground, where he continued to hold her down. At that point, Amy started yelling what she described as "lots of crazy things."
What worked was when she yelled, "I have herpes. I'll give you herpes."
While he paused, Amy said, she slowly got up and then ran back to her car. He followed her, and she thought he was going to grab her again. Instead, he apparently wanted to make sure she knew how to get off the property.
"There was no remorse or fear in his eyes. He acted as if nothing bad happened," Amy said.
But he did take a moment to say that his e-mail and cell phone were disposable, so she wouldn't be able to find out his identity.
The Tucson sex-worker community is semi-organized, so when she got home, she reached out to other sex workers. It didn't take long for Amy to hear back from five other women who have had similar experiences, apparently with the same individual. Several women experienced encounters that were more brutal.
Amy said she had panic attacks for weeks after the incident.
"He asks everyone for the same thing—the bikini (and) sex outdoors in a remote area off Kinney Road," said Lisa, another Tucson sex worker. "The problem (for him) is his cell phone and e-mail weren't disposable: We know who he is, and we know what he looks like. Our goal right now is to get the word out to every sex worker in Tucson."
They first started by e-mailing everyone who advertises in places like Backpage.com, and now they are trying to find women who don't advertise, yet walk the streets for clients.
They've also gone to the Tucson Police Department and local sex-worker and sexual-assault advocates for help.
"What needs to happen next for everyone to take this seriously? Bodies found on Kinney Road? We think this has potential to move in that direction," Lisa said.
The information the women gathered on the client was sent to Tucson Police Department's Sgt. Tim Milbourn, head of TPD's adult sex-crimes detail.
On Friday, Sept. 2, Milbourn told the Weekly that he hadn't received any information. He did say that police would need a victim to step forward to press charges, because officers need more than written testimony from victims who wish to remain anonymous.
"If they provide us only information on this person, it's not enough to initiate charges or an investigation," Milbourn said.
When asked if the fact that all of the victims are sex workers would affect how officers approach the case, Milbourn said no. "Rape is rape regardless."
Later, in a follow-up e-mail to the Weekly, Milbourn confirmed that he had received the information provided by the sex workers and their advocates. That information includes the perpetrator's name, address, e-mail address, phone number and picture—all collected through the women's investigation, using Google and the Internet.
"The information that was provided indicated that the incident happened outside of the city of Tucson, and I did contact the Pima County Sheriff Department to pass that information on to them," Milbourn wrote.
Milbourn added that he let advocates know that the information was now in Pima County's hands, and asked them "to please contact me if they had a victim willing to come forward and assist in a criminal investigation of any incident occurring within the ... Tucson Police Department jurisdiction."
As of press time, Pima County Sheriff's Department public information officer Dawn Barkman was unable to confirm where the case was headed.
Juliana Piccillo, a spokesperson for the local chapter of the Sex Worker Outreach Project (SWOP), said it is difficult for women to come forward to report sexual assault or rape—and it is even more challenging for sex workers.
The Dominique Strauss-Kahn's rape case and its result didn't make it easier, Piccillo said.
If a victim does come forward and identify themselves, it's possible that law enforcement and prosecutors may decide to not pursue charges. "Or worse, the victim is humiliated, and the attacker remains free to assault women again. It's got to be frustrating for law enforcement as well. We need another approach. I hope if nothing else comes out of this, we can start moving toward that."
Lisa said she suspects that law-enforcement officials may dismiss their concerns, because she and the other women make a living selling sex. After all, in this business, problem clients must be a common occurrence, right?
"No, actually, most men who contact me are just regular guys who want to get laid ... Some people who hire me have a fantasy, but they aren't dangerous," she said.
"Right now, no one is able to come forward to the police ... but if the police say, 'Rape is rape,' then, great, because that means they have to figure out how to stand up for us, too."