1. Archive

Modeling sting leads to 5 arrests

Two Tiffany's lingerie modeling shops are being accused of showing more than negligees to customers.

After a five-week undercover investigation, Pasco County sheriff's detectives arrested the shops' owner, assistant manager and three models Thursday.

Detectives said the three female models presented themselves topless or nude to undercover officers, masturbated or danced nude in front of them, or sat on their laps while rubbing their breasts in their faces.

Investigators' reports described such behavior during several visits to the Tiffany's shops at 8022 State Road 54 in New Port Richey and 13223 U.S. 19 in Hudson in May and early June.

Detectives made the arrests Thursday night after two women models danced nude during a private party of undercover detectives at the Tiffany's in New Port Richey. Officers' reports said James Louis Craig, the stores' owner, rented the room and provided the women as entertainment for $430. His assistant manager, Jerry Kirkpatrick, allegedly helped arrange the party at detectives' request.

Sheriff's spokesman Jon Powers said detectives investigated both Tiffany's locations after getting several complaints. This is not the first time the business has drawn the attention of law enforcement. In August 1992, three Tiffany's employees were charged with soliciting prostitution and lewd and lascivious behavior. The status of those charges could not be determined Friday.

In the more recent investigation, one detective described a May 11 visit to the Tiffany's in Hudson, saying a model accepted $20 to undress and masturbate in front of him. She also allegedly told the officer, "We could have a lot more fun" if the officer would take off his clothes.

Cynthia Babson, 18, of Teresa Boulevard N in New Port Richey was charged with lewd and lascivious acts and possession of marijuana. Tracy Clark, 23, of New York Avenue in Hudson was charged with indecent exposure. Karen Nix, 23, of State Road 54 in New Port Richey was charged with lewd and lascivious acts and indecent exposure.

Kirkpatrick was charged with assigning the women to work the party. Craig, the owner, was charged with maintaining a structure for purposes of lewdness, earning money through prostitution and arranging the party.

Craig, Kirkpatrick and the three women were released from West Pasco Detention Center on Friday after posting bond.

Babson said Friday that she had worked at Tiffany's three days and was told by Craig that it was legal for her to dance topless. She said she thought she was performing for a bachelor party Thursday night. After 15 minutes of topless dancing, she said, as many as 20 officers raided the shop.

"I came in close range, but I didn't touch those guys," Babson told the Times.

Kirkpatrick, the 20-year-old assistant manager, said Friday he arranged what he thought was a bachelor party at Craig's request. He said he knew the dancers at the party "would be topless to a certain degree" but did not know the dancing would be illegal.

Detectives also said a woman working as an informant for the Sheriff's Office interviewed for a job at the Tiffany's in Hudson on April 30 and was told by Craig that she would have to model "in something crotchless."

The detectives' affidavit alleges that the informant, wearing a hidden microphone, recorded Craig implying that performing oral sex made up "95 percent of the business" and could "live with" 10 percent or 20 percent being sexual intercourse. The reports said Craig indicated oral sex and intercourse through hand motions during the conversation.