Charles Peters, the leader and gatekeeper of the self-titled “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” — a group of men who frequented and rated prostitutes — was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison.
A sweeping, unprecedented police investigation that led to the arrests of more than 30 men involved in buying and promoting the sexual services of prostituted Korean women working out of luxury apartments in Seattle and Bellevue came to an end Thursday when a King County Superior Court judge sentenced the ringleader to prison.
Charles Peters, the leader and gatekeeper of the self-titled “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” — a group of men who frequented and rated prostitutes — was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison and ordered to pay a $3,000 fine after a jury convicted him in October of nine counts of second-degree promoting prostitution. Peters, 49, is appealing his conviction. Although Peters was booked Thursday into the King County Jail, Judge Mary Roberts agreed to allow Peters to post a $75,000 bond while his appeal is pending.
His case was the last to be resolved after a joint investigation by the King County Sheriff’s Office and the Bellevue Police Department that began in spring 2015 and led to charges being filed against Peters and nine other “League” members the following January, according to prosecutors. Charges against more men soon followed.
The group was ultimately infiltrated by an undercover detective after a Bellevue woman alerted police she suspected one of her neighbors in an upscale Bellevue apartment was involved in sex work. The Seattle Times published a story on the sprawling police investigation in July 2017.
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Thirty-two men pleaded guilty to promoting prostitution, but Peters — who used the handles “PeterRabbit” and “TomCat007” in his sexually explicit, online reviews of prostituted women — was the only one to go to trial, according to prosecutors.
“He did as much as anyone to build and advance demand for prostitution in the Pacific Northwest,” a seven-page case summary written by Senior Deputy Prosecutors Gary Ernsdorff and Ben Gauen says of Peters, noting he financed the creation of a now shuttered website that exclusively advertised prostituted Korean women, known as “K girls.”
The website, which went online in May 2015,” was a huge success” visited by nearly 40,000 individuals in a month; combined, visitors to the site viewed more than 1 million pages a month before the site was taken down in January 2016, according to the summary.
Well-educated and affluent, Peters was “a prolific sex buyer” who apparently spent more than $30,000 one year on commercial sex, the summary says. He also required prospective “League” members, who were fellow sex buyers, to meet him face to face before giving them access to a private website “for select users who were dedicated to advancing the Korean prostitution business in the area” and inviting them to exclusive “meet-and-greets” held at local bars and restaurants, according to the summary.
Peters’ attorney wrote in a sentencing memo that Peters believed he was committing a misdemeanor crime of patronizing a prostitute but “was unaware his actions could be construed as felonies.”
“Mr. Peters’ life and career has been completely destroyed because (of) the State’s prosecution and subsequent convictions,” wrote attorney Jennifer Cannon-Unione in the memo.
A former Army medic, Peters worked with terminally-ill cancer patients as a clinical research associate in hospitals around the country — but has lost his career as a result of his felony convictions, the memo says.