Police reveal details of investigation leading to baristas' prostitution charges

EVERERTT, Wash. - Five baristas at the Grab-n-Go Espresso, an Everett, Washington coffee stand where baristas wear bikinis, have been charged with prostitution.

Police say the women charged customers to touch their breasts and buttocks, which falls under the city's definition of prostitution.

"Prostitution, that is touching of the body parts for a fee," Sgt. Robert Goetz said.

The charges come after a two-month undercover investigation this summer by Everett police.

Investigators say the women exposed private parts, posed naked for pictures and allowed customers who paid enough money to touch them.

When officers began their investigation back in July, they said they got an eyeful.

In one instance, detectives say they saw the women spray and lick whipped cream off each other.

In another instance, an undercover cop paid $20 and two baristas allegedly bared their breasts and pulled down their undergarments.

Stand owner Bill Wheeler say the allegations are completely untrue.

"There's no prostitution. There never was, there never will be," said Wheeler. "We have a policy in all of our company that if anyone does any illegal activity, they're terminated."

Wheeler says his baristas have been the target of police harassment.

He claims officers have romantically pursued them and when they were rebuffed, the police trumped up charges.

Everett police say that accusation is false.

They said after being flooded with complaints from neighbors and passersby, they launched their undercover investigation.

Sgt. Robert Goetz says the women, ages 18-to-24, were not arrested.

They are expected to be in Municipal Court in a few weeks to answer misdemeanor charges.

People who've driven past the stands say they've gotten an eye full.

"Bikinis I don't have a problem with, but when you're starting to expose yourself, you've just crossed the line," said Debbie Landry.

Landry and others are glad something's being done.

"I don't appreciate the fact that we can drive by as a mom with kids," said Charity Psaradelis.

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