Yale worker accused of prostitution

Jane, 41, is a Yale dining hall employee. She has four children — two sons and two daughters — as well as a two-year-old granddaughter, and she lives in Westville, although until last month she lived in Fair Haven. Jane has worked at Yale for three-and-a-half years.

And on Sept. 18, Jane pled guilty to prostitution.

Jane — whose name is being withheld in order to protect her privacy — continues to work in a residential college dining hall five days a week. After she was arrested, Jane said, she was the target of rumors and gossip, and she does not want to encourage any more whispered insults from her co-workers or neighbors.

“That was embarrassing and humiliating,” Jane said. “That’s not even my style.”

Jane was arrested at 12:45 a.m. on Aug. 22 during an undercover prostitution sting conducted by the New Haven Police Department. She was one of eight individuals arrested that night. Since that date, the NHPD has arrested 39 men and women in a series of high-profile stings aimed at eradicating the sex industry in New Haven. The latest of these stings occurred last Tuesday night, when five more women were charged with prostitution.

But Jane said she is not a career prostitute. She had only been arrested once, in 2001. She had a steady job at Yale with great benefits — health insurance for her family, dental care, a 401(k). And even with these safeguards, somehow, Jane could not escape the fate of so many other women in her neighborhood: being arrested for selling her body.

Although she maintains that she is innocent of the accusation, Jane pleaded guilty to one count of prostitution and was sentenced to one year of self-probation, allowing her to stay out of prison without having to check in with a probation officer. She continues to work at Yale, and she has moved to a new home in a new part of town that she hopes will be less violent and crime-ridden. But now, Jane faces her most difficult challenge: regaining her reputation and keeping her family together.

‘Career: undecided’

Jane always wanted to go to Yale.

Although Jane was born in New Jersey, she grew up in the Westville area of New Haven, and whenever she passed through the streets of Yale lined with stone archways and towers, she found herself in awe of the campus, which she said was “always beautiful.”

And Jane didn’t just want to go to Yale. She wanted to attend Yale Law School and become a prosecuting attorney. She liked “to get her point across,” she said, and she thought the law would be the perfect career for her to practice her love of argument. Studying prosecution at one of the top law schools in the nation was a dream she had for herself throughout her high school years.

“Yale was always popular, it was big,” Jane said. “It seemed like a lot of important people came out of Yale.”

But once Jane graduated from James Hillhouse High School in 1986, that dream was pushed to the wayside. Jane was pregnant with her first child, and she knew it would be impossible to study for a law degree while caring for an infant son. In the 1986 volume of the Hillhouse High yearbook, Jane’s picture appears next to a single phrase, “Career: Undecided.”

After high school, Jane worked at a myriad of jobs: She was a school bus driver, a bank teller, a maid, a chauffeur for Connecticut Limo. Her favorite job was working on school buses, she said. During that time between high school and now, Jane had three more children. And her fiance — the father of her first two children — was shot to death in the back a short time into their engagement.

Now, at least, Jane has the opportunity every day to experience the Yale charm she idolized in her childhood. She has worked in five different residential college dining halls since the beginning of 2005. Along with her benefits package, she enjoys working at Yale because she is a “people person,” she said.

While working in the dining halls, Jane always takes the time to be friendly and introduce new employees to the rest of the dining hall staff, said Rosa Ayala ’09, a student dining hall manager. She said Jane liked to joke around with her co-workers, but was also an “all-around hard worker,” often picking up a broom to sweep during every lull in traffic.

Jane said this is one of the most satisfying parts of her job, providing tasty food for students and tidying up after they finish.

“I like cleaning up, keeping the dining hall looking beautiful,” she said.

Plus, she said, the job is conveniently located in downtown New Haven — it is easy to reach and a nice part of the city, only a half-hour bus ride from her new home in Westville.

‘The lowest place you can live’

After being arrested, Jane moved from her boyfriend’s third-floor apartment in Fair Haven to her sister’s home in Westville. She said she could no longer deal with life in Fair Haven, a neighborhood ridden with drugs and violence.

“I hated it in that area. Oh, I hate Fair Haven,” Jane said. “That’s the lowest place you can live.”

Jane said her former street block was a hub of city prostitution, and she often drove by local women soliciting on street corners. One of Jane’s good friends has been arrested numerous times for prostitution, Jane said, although her friend contracted HIV from sharing needles. That is why Jane has kept herself away from the sex industry, she said — there is too much risk of contracting a life-threatening disease, especially in the drug-infested neighborhoods of Fair Haven.

Yale epidemiologist Mark Kinzly said drug abuse is exactly what has kept Fair Haven streets teeming with women looking to prostitute themselves for money. The city government needs to provide more rehabilitative services to female drug users if they are to get themselves off the streets. Until that time, he said, prostitution will continue to define Jane’s old neighborhood in Fair Haven.

Jane said she has tried her best to keep herself and her four children away from this culture of drugs and prostitution, but it is difficult, she said. Before she left the neighborhood, she said, she witnessed drug dealing and streetwalkers everywhere she turned. She said she wants something better than that for her children, especially for her oldest son, who she said has been heading down the wrong path.

“He wants to hang out with the bad people, people who don’t want nothing,” Jane said. “And I worked too hard for him not to want nothing.”

A tarnished reputation

Jane insists that it was her shorts that got her in trouble.

“I had on some little pair of short pants that I shouldn’t have walked out of the house with,” Jane said. “Those are my around-the-house short pants. They make my legs look big, and they were real short.”

Jane was wearing these shorts, her black work sneakers and a residential college hoodie when she left her home in Fair Haven late at night on Aug. 21 in order to walk to a local gas station and buy a pack of cigarettes, she said.

On the way, she said, she was stopped by a middle-aged man in a green car. He pulled his car up alongside her, she said, and asked whether she needed a lift. She told him she was going to the gas station. She asked him whether he was a cop. He said he was not.

That night, NHPD officers were planning the second in a series of undercover stings — the week before, “johns,” or patrons of prostitutes, were arrested by female officers posing as prostitutes on the streets of Fair Haven and Dwight neighborhoods. This night, they were performing a reverse operation — the undercover officers were male, and female prostitutes were their targets.

When Jane entered the man’s car, she said she noticed the tattoos running up his arm. He asked her whether she wanted to “party,” and she responded that she only wanted to go the gas station, Jane said. The driver of the car told her that a group of his friends were waiting for him at a bachelor party, Jane said. He offered her $50 to come back with him to a hotel room, and she refused, she said. She berated him for cheating on his wife, and she warned him that he could easily contract HIV from a prostitute, Jane said.

The driver of the car asked Jane once more whether she wanted $50, but he said he was not demanding anything in particular — he just wanted to “hang out,” Jane recalled. She said she considered, said she might accept the money, as long as they were just going to “hang out,” and nothing else, she said. He had not yet given her money and she had not yet taken it when she realized that the car was not headed for the gas station, Jane said. The car pulled over, another police officer showed up, and she was handcuffed and taken to jail, she said.

Jane said she never accepted the money. But NHPD Assistant Chief Peter Reichard said this claim cannot be true, although he declined to comment on Jane’s case in particular. Officers conducting the stings are trained on exactly what constitutes probable cause for a prostitution arrest — once money has been offered and accepted, the arrest may occur. Undercover officers know they cannot take an individual into custody until money changes hands. Every arrest during the prostitution stings occurred “by the book,” Reichard said, and after all, there are so many prostitutes on the streets of Fair Haven that there is no need to conjure up false charges, he said.

“We’re not looking to set people up,” Reichard said. “We don’t need to set people up. Right now, prostitution is at a high point.”

Four weeks after being arrested, Jane pleaded guilty to one charge of misdemeanor prostitution. She said she agreed to a plea deal following the recommendation of her public defender, Trey Bruce, who declined to give comment to the News. Jane said she maintains she is innocent of the crime, but Bruce told her that it would be difficult to go against the word of a police officer, she said. Jane received one year of self-probation. She can continue with her day-to-day life and keep her job at Yale.

But Jane said she is considering filing a civil suit against the police. She did not know the man whose car she entered was a police officer, and that is entrapment, she said.

After her arrest, Jane’s name, photo and date of birth were published by the city’s Office of Public Information, and were subsequently published in the New Haven Register, the New Haven Independent and the News. She watched her mugshot come up on the local evening news. This, she said, was the worst part — having her reputation tarnished for her family, neighbors and co-workers to see.

“Even my kids’ friends said, ‘Why did they do that to you, and why they have you looking like a murderer on TV?’ ” Jane said. “That was embarrassing. You know that is not of me.”

A future after Yale

The manager of the dining hall in which Jane currently works declined to comment on her situtation, but Dining Services Executive Director Rafi Taherian said he was not aware of the prostitution charge until the News informed him. He said he cannot say for certain whether her arrest would be a fireable offense, and he declined to comment further.

But Jane does not plan on working in Yale’s dining halls forever.

“I’m not looking to be working in a dish room five years from now,” she said. “I’m looking to be somewhere else. I’m gonna have something by the time I leave Yale.”

Right now, Jane’s hope to be “somewhere else” includes her current plan of becoming a trained chef. Working in the dining hall was the first step towards that plan — she often takes note of recipes she likes in the dining halls, then tries to recreate them at home for her family to enjoy.

Her favorite Yale dining hall dishes? Broccoli stir-fry and teriyaki steak, she said.


  • Wait, what?

    So the News published her name, photo and date of birth (ditto other publications) weeks ago, but NOW she's gonna be anonymous? Are you kidding me? Is the standard for anonymity now that the source can spell "anonymity?"

    P.S. Why did she plead guilty if she's not guilty? Did someone ask her?

  • Smell Test Detector

    What an utter b.s. article. She may not have been able to afford an atty to help her fight the charge. It is UNRELATED to her position at Yale unless there's a morals clause in her contract (oops, most employees don't have contracts …)

  • y07

    #1 is sadly misinformed about the state of the criminal justice system. Plenty of people plead guilty when they're not--public defenders are overworked, and cases like this, that pit the defendant's credibility against that of a police officer are objectively hard to fight, even if you don't have three other cases scheduled that day. The justice system even has a special guilty plea for when you really want to maintain that you didn't do anything wrong--the Alford plea. THAT'S how often people plead "guilty" to crimes that they maintain they didn't commit. Don't think that innocent people don't plead guilty. It happens far too often.

    Jane--your life is still open. You can do more than you think you can.

  • 2010

    whoever wrote this article is clearly trying to paint a picture of helplessness, and somehow managed to do a terrible job of it.

  • Karen

    Yale does not and should not knowingly hire and retain felons for obvious reasons.

  • Hieronymus

    Karen: I rather doubt "Jane's" was a felony offense.

  • sj

    this article is disgusting journalism - the story is nice and all, but there's no effort made to ensure that her story is accurate.

    thumbs-down to the usually reliable ydn.

  • SY 2000

    It's "myriad possibilities" not "myriad of.." Geesh.

  • hey sj

    what are you suggesting? verify her story? that's the whole point! you can't verify a he said/she said between a women arrested as prostitute, and a cop. so you tell the story, and as a critical reader you come away from the story with an understanding of the ambiguity of the prostitution arrests, and the difficulty of making this act a crime …

    nice story, keep up the good work, ydn

  • Joe

    I think alot of Yale women behave in ways similar to prostitutes, but recieve no money for it. Why should this woman who prostitutes herself to survive, be arrested for her behavior ? This is very unfair, and it shows how unjust the nation's laws are.

  • Try Again

    Here's a few thoughts.

    1. Most women in Fair Haven are not prostitutes. Yet you say: "Jane could not escape the fate of so many other women in her neighborhood: being arrested for selling her body." I live in Fair Haven and everyone supports these arrests, and no one thinks that "so many other women" are prostitutes. Maybe 20 or so women and another 4-5 men are prostitutes here.
    2. Were you trying to get Jane fired? Seems pretty evil to let her boss know she plead guilty to a felony. Do you plan to take care of her kids? The boss offered no useful context for your story. Is there an ethics class for YDN reporters?
    3. Fair Haven is not some god awful neighborhood but your article makes it seem that way. She is an admitted felon with a pretty odd story (why'd she get in a stranger's car at night). Yet she gets to be your lone expert on a neighborhood where about 20% of city residents lives.
    4. Since we have one gas station here, she was walking on Chapel Street, a mostly industrial strip with businesses on one side and houses on the other where there has been prostitution (reduced by the NHPD sweeps). This is a good location for illicit activity because people from East Haven and downtown can quickly get into and out of our neighborhood.

  • SY2000

    It IS "myriad of possibilities" or "myriad possibilities." In situation 1, it means a "variety of" possibilities. In situation 2, it means a great number of possibilities.

  • Joey

    I strongly disagree with joe (#9),Yale woman are very classy. There is no place on the internet for such callous ,mean statements. Yale will probably terminate her employ,just a little sticky issue of handling the food and handling private parts at the wee wee hours of nite.
    Hey maybe some crooked bicycle dealer can have her sign off on the stolen bikes and various bike seats,tires etc. that the homies bring in the sell

  • JustAThought

    Innocent until proven guilty

  • sarah bee

    If she is capable of the academic work, Yale should offer her a full scholarship

  • Youranidiot

    Why the hell would you tell her boss that she got arrested? Nice work. This is also a terribly written article.

  • ?

    to # 14

    um..innocent until PLEADED guilty

  • y07

    @JustAThought: Honey, she pled out. You don't get to be presumed innocent forever.

  • Eli


    A prostitute handling our food.

    I want to puke right now

  • City resident

    "Yale epidemiologist Mark Kinzly said … The city government needs to provide more rehabilitative services to female drug users if they are to get themselves off the streets."

    Why dosen't Yale pay their employees' enough so they don't have to go whoring on the side?

    Also where does this non-tax paying professor get off telling New Haven what to pay for, What about the state and the feds?

  • Heather Findlay

    “I hated it in that area. Oh, I hate Fair Haven,” Jane said. “That’s the lowest place you can live.”

    Jane…I am sorry you felt that way about Fair Haven. I am sorry you missed out on the vibrant and strong community. I am sorry you missed the sunsets along the Quinnipiac River. I am sorry you will miss out on the new walking loop around the River. I am sorry you just didn't get the fact that you never stepped far enough outside your own door to realize that Fair Haven is probably the best area to live in New Haven.

    Fair Haven is NOT to blame for what happened to you. I'm sorry but YOU chose to get into the car with a stranger. I guess you are lucky that it was the police and not a sick twisted human who could have hurt or killed you.

    Good luck in Westville.

  • William Doriss

    N.H.P.D. has no credibility whatsoever. This was a sting, clear and simple. The City and State hit me with 13 bogus criminal charges and 69 years prison in 2002. I never admitted anything. Why should I? I was completely and totally innocent of any crime committed in CT. I refused the ridiculous plea-bargain and their stupid Alford doctrine.

    The City and State lost big-time. I walked out with two misdemeanor convictions achieved thru tricks of jurisprudence, after beating 9 (nine) felony counts. The State and the Court demanded, and got, their "pound of flesh," illegally and unlawfully.

    Fast Forward: my civil tort claim against City and State for $20M was docketed with the Supreme Court of the U.S. on Sept. 18, case #08-6378. New Haven is lawless city in a lawless state. Google my name for more info, advanced search (-doris,-dorris,-doris's,-williams). Or go to http://www.africanindependent.com/LAW_doriss_case1 and 2.

    Did any of you ever read "Jude the Obscure"? Now you can read "Jane the Obscure." Have a nice day.

    Bill Doriss
    Yale Reject,
    Class of '66
    Cape Cod, MA

  • simone

    Well maybe the dining hall wasn't paying her enough!

    Do you think women get into this profession because they love the job? Give me a break!

  • Steven G. Erickson

    What happened to Police discretion, this woman doesn't sound like a threat to society. She does sound like she was used to make quota for the officer's convenience.

    A friend of mine is a retired Narcotics cop. He told me that a lot of BS arrests had to be made to just "make marks" in the book. Statics are paid attention to for getting Federal Tax Dollars into departments based on arrests for certain crimes.

    Some poor guy can legitimately stop, ask for directions, get nailed for trying to pick up a prostitute, get his car confiscated, lose his job, house, family, and the sum total of his life so an officer can make quota.

    This story stinks. Police should be very careful arresting people, it can end and ruin lives.

  • GRD 73

    This isn't a personal advertisement section Mr. Doriss. You have the other on line papers and blogs you constantly fill to carrry on your personal agenda.

  • Hollywood

    A real hooker with a heart of gold story!

  • William Doriss

    Hey Mr. Monkey-Mouth Blogmaster wannabe, class of 73, who are you to judge? Now it's my turn to judge you, your city AND your university. Hint: It's not a pretty picture! Go soak your head.

  • suefairhaven

    If The Janes stay out of Fair Haven we would not get a bad name and we are good people who have lived there all their lives so good bye Jane and make Westville get the bad name and you work for Yale

  • asking for trouble?

    If Jane had just kept on walking and declined the ride, she wouldn't have ended up in this mess. It's a very simple lesson taught to each person as a youth…never get in a car with a stranger! It never, ever works out…

  • jaime277

    Response # 26 certainly sums up your legal troubles nicely Mr. Doriss. But back on the topic, does Yale even check it's employee and student population for criminal records after admissions or hiring? And is there an actual policy in place if a record is discovered?

  • joey

    I'm glad to hear from Mr.Doriss, some readers are actually listening and providing pretty good input.it helps.
    A lot of arrests are from "go no where foot patrol cops" who will concoct the wildest of charges ,using every bit of their imaginations to further a dead end career. By the time the Courts find out about the phony reports the cop has asked for and probably received his promotion (due to the big capers)
    ..and then see F.Mac Buckley,and find out just how sympathetic a red faced and embarrassed courtroom can be..
    hooray for Hollywood -#25
    and as Chef used to say #28 ,never get out of the boat either.
    And finally #29 brings up good points
    Hey Jaime277 ! some applicants and residing residents are put under a high powered microscope, some applicants/hires come out of no-where
    I think the ones under the radar are relatives of State Reps,Police,City Admistration and exemptions are made.
    If you ask a Cop if the buddy has a record just what do you think the answer will be ?

  • free speech

    give me a BREAK!!!!! you live in fair haven, you decided to pollute the area with selling your behind infront of our children, and typical trash talk, now YOU SAY IT AN AWEFUL PLACE TO LIVE IN. shame on this article being published. go find more important news, that makes sense!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Spherical Cow

    Arresting johns: worth the while. It can perhaps lower the demand of a social ill.

    Arresting prostitutes: worthless. Regardless of whether Jane is or is not a prostitute (who cares!), arresting prostittues is not in the least going to lower prostitution rates. They aren't out there because they love it. How about the city spend the money on drug rehab instead of cops with big egos …

  • Clinical Assists Query

    Where is the Yale Law School in this? Are there any clinics available to assist those charged with minor crimes? How about an employment law clinic to help those who are disproportionately affected by discrimination based on criminal arrests and/or convictions? Is the old saying true that one only goes to Yale Law School if one does not wish to practice? This lady may need help if Yale attempts to fire her based on the arrest/guilty plea. It's not a work-related offense. How about helping her too?

  • smarty pants

    Umm, does anyone else think this story is total crap? Maybe she's not a prostitute all the time, but what does a woman think she's doing who gets in a car with a guy who offers her money to go "hang out" with his friends?


  • William Doriss

    While Martine Powers may not be in line for a Pulitzer Prize with this piece, it appears she may have a bright future ahead of her in journalism. This story was topical, community-oriented and chockablock full of "human interest."

    Here's my point: The City has a new chief of police. The City also has a serious problem with young black men apparently having unfettered access to guns, and a willingness to use them with or without the slightest provocation. This is no time to be politically correct, or shy, about addressing THIS "quality of life" issue in the great city of New Haven,… or Hartford for that matter.

    So what is the new chief's response? He steps up so-called "prostitution stings" in Fairhaven! Mug shots of alleged prostitutes and johns are posted prominently in the newspapers. This is a silly red herring and a waste of overstrained departmental resources. In a city I might add which is incapable of responding quickly and adequately to run-of-the-mill 911 calls. (See my two civilian review complaints, filed July, 2003. That's you Reggie Thomas.)

    Just as the War on Drugs has proved to be nothing more than an enhanced Employment Act for law enforcement, court personnel and corrections--and has accomplished nothing more than the needless breakup of families and other disruptions to the community--so the War on the Solicitation for Sex will not make the perceived problem disappear. It goes underground, onto the net, or to another part of town as someone pointed out above.

    I have posted elsewhere that Chief Lewis is getting off to a bad start, that he will become a short-timer and the latest casualty in a line of ineffective chiefs of police. This will happen at the end of 18 months when it becomes clear that crime in the city has not been reduced--in spite of fudged and/or doctored numbers showing "overall" crime to have been reduced. Thank you very much, preserve-and-protect-breath.

    And specifically, solicitation arrests will be sharply higher, which the P.D. will tout, implying that "quality of life" issues have indeed been addressed. Meanwhile, everyone will know, if not anecdotally then thru the news, that gun-related crime and other crimes of violence will have increased, making the city more dangerous than ever. With the overall economy tanking, this is even more likely than before.

    Mark Pawlina, my neighbor, was no fool in turning down the thankless chief's job. The fact is, Chief Lewis was crammed down DeStef's throat by PERF when Pawlina, the first choice--and a good one--bowed out. Unfortunately, N.H is not Pomona, and N.H. has a well-entrenched "police culture" of ineptitude and malfeasance, to put it mildly. Have you not done enough damage to the image of N.H., Louie Cavaliere, in your looong tenure as union pres? This is compounded by a New Haven judicial district which is completely out of control and a state which runs roughshod over "constitutional" and due-process rights willy-nilly AND with impunity,… which is to say "without accountability."

    In a state which is not short on "laws," some of you may not be familiar with:

    Connecticut General Statutes Section 53a-155:

    “Tampering with or fabricating physical evidence: Class D felony. (a) A person is guilty of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence if, believing that an official proceeding is pending, or about to be instituted, he: (1) Alters, destroys, conceals or removes any record, document or thing with purpose to impair its verity or availability in such proceeding; or (2) makes, presents or uses any record, document or thing knowing it to be false and with purpose to mislead a public servant who is or may be engaged in such official proceeding.”

    Officers of the law and state officials are not immune from the above statute. But who will hold them accountable if not you the citizens? Gov. Rell?!?

    Erickson and simone, above, make valid points which I myself had not thought of. This is my maiden voyage at YDN, and hopefully not my last.