Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Prostitution run by a syndicate based in Sacramento, attorney general says

(Editor’s note: Raids by law enforcement officers in the fall of 1952 shut down several houses of prostitution in Malheur County cities. But these raids were nothing new, and the houses were often back in business within a year or so. In summer of 1953 County District Attorney Charles Swan was making it clear he was prepared to keep the places shut down, but only if he had the support of local civic and business leaders. To that end, he brought the state attorney general to Nyssa to talk to members of local service organizations and women’s clubs.)

Condensed from the Argus-Observer, June 1953

Prostitution is run by syndicates, State Attorney General Robert Y. Thornton told a public meeting in Nyssa Friday night.

He said his investigation had shown there is a operation based in Sacramento that had a listing of exchange towns. (Though this “list” was not explained further in the story, it was understood to be a reference to listings of the women who moved from city to another on a regular basis.)

A number of towns in Oregon, including Nyssa, were on this exchange list, Thornton added.
The state attorney general suggested that the houses were centers of dope dealing and often harbored criminals.

“People will get law enforcement only to the extent they demand it,” he concluded.

Malheur County District Attorney Charles Swan, who introduced Thornton at the meeting, picked up on that refrain. He noted that he had disposed of several prostitution cases in recent months and that further enforcement would depend on “the people.”

Swan added that he was about to turn his attention to widespread gambling in the county.

“Everybody knows it is going on,” Swan said.

But he noted that before he took action on gambling he was going to consult the “governing bodies” of the county’s several towns.

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