Last summer, two men in their 40s — one a Level 3 sex offender — struck up a conversation with two 17-year-old girls who were seated by the fountain in Seattle’s Westlake Park.
Michael Gaines, 42, of Kent, told one of the girls he was a former pimp looking to get back in the business and wanted her to work as a prostitute, turning over any money she made to him. He cautioned that she would have to lie about her age.
Bruce Brooks, a 45-year-old registered sex offender from Tacoma, had a similar offer for the second girl. He offered to set her up with an escort service, telling her she could make more money if she had sex with clients. He tried to persuade the girl to get into his car so they could talk more about it.
Turns out the two “girls” Gaines and Brooks were trying to recruit into prostitution were undercover Seattle police officers, resulting in the men’s arrest that August day for attempted commercial sex abuse of a minor.
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On Wednesday, as they were preparing to stand trial, both men took advantage of plea deals offered by the state: Gaines pleaded guilty to first-degree promoting prostitution, while Brooks pleaded guilty to second-degree promoting prostitution.
King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Val Richey said the state will recommend that Gaines serve just over seven years in prison when he is sentenced July 24. Richey will recommend that Brooks be sentenced to just over two years in prison. He is to be sentenced Sept. 20.
Both men will be required to provide DNA samples, submit to HIV testing and pay a $3,000 prostitution fine as part of the plea agreement.
The men are both unemployed with lengthy criminal histories, court records show.
Gaines has previously been convicted of promoting prostitution. Brooks pleaded guilty to first-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree robbery charges in 1992, a year before Washington voters endorsed what would become the state’s three-strikes law.
Seattle police Sgt. Jaycin Diaz wasn’t in court Wednesday but later said he was pleased with the outcome of the case against Gaines and Brooks.
Diaz, of the department’s Vice & High Risk Victims Unit, said his officers will continue to do prostitution sting operations at Westlake Park and other “recruiting hot beds” where pimps try to lure juvenile girls into prostitution.
“Westlake is just one of many” recruiting sites for pimps, who look for places with high concentrations of young people, Diaz said. “We were fortunate in this case” that no girls were actually victimized.
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or firstname.lastname@example.org