Berkeley High Teacher Arrested in Sting, Pleads Innocent to Prostitution Charge
Friday, August 22, 2003
A Berkeley High School teacher pleaded innocent to a misdemeanor charge Wednesday for soliciting prostitution.
The teacher, Shannon Williams, will face a pretrial hearing next Wednesday for allegedly selling sexual acts in an Oakland apartment last week. She was arrested Aug. 13 in an apartment in Oakland's Rose Garden neighborhood by undercover officers, police said.
Police set up a sting operation after receiving a tip that Williams and another woman were soliciting sex in the Oakland apartment, said Danielle Ashford, spokesperson for the Oakland Police Department.
Within 24 hours of the tip, Oakland police Officer Mark Turpin made contact with Williams. After she allegedly agreed to perform certain sex acts for $250 in cash, she was arrested, police said.
Turpin was unavailable for comment.
Another woman may have been involved, Ashford said.
Williams had leased the apartment for about a year prior to the arrest, Ashford added.
Katya Komisaruk, Williams' attorney from the Just Cause Law Collective, criticized the police's handling of the case.
Komisaruk claimed that the team of officers that burst into the apartment harassed Williams.
"Why did it take nine to 11 officers to arrest one prostitute?" Komisaruk said.
Ashford said that she did not know about the number of officers involved.
Komisaruk claimed police unfairly targeted Williams because she was a high school teacher.
"There are prostitute arrests everyday. The reason they decided to crucify Shannon is that she had been a school teacher," Komisaruk said. "They thought it was a fun assignment, that's why there were so many of them."
Williams will take the year off from her part-time job at Berkeley High for family reasons, according to Komisaruk.
Williams declined to comment.
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