Police Reveal More Details of "Operation Goddess Temple"; More Prostitution Indictments to Come

Categories: News
tracy elise_sized.jpg
schooloftemplearts.org
Phoenix Goddess Temple founder Tracey Elise
Eighteen people were arrested yesterday after police raided two so-called Arizona "temples" on suspicion of prostitution, and there will be more arrests and indictments coming, according to the Phoenix Police Department.

Police revealed some details of their investigation, dubbed "Operation Goddess Temple," at a press conference at Phoenix Police Headquarters today. 

The Phoenix police vice unit and police in Yavapai County have been conducting undercover investigations for the past six months at the Sedona Temple in Sedona and the Phoenix Goddess Temple at 24th Street and Thomas Road (we detailed some of the latter temple's "sessions" in February, in the New Times cover story, "Sexual Healing.")

Practitioners at Phoenix Goddess Temple have said their "sessions" (which can include "prostate massage," among other things) are for spiritual healing and part of their religious freedom. 

At the press conference today, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, who will assist in prosecuting the suspects, made it clear the authorities see the temple's practices quite differently.

"This was no more a church than Cuba was fantasy island," Montgomery said.

goddess temple mugshots.jpg
Mug shots courtesy of Phoenix Police Department
Holly Alsop (left) and Marilyn Hussey (right) were among the "goddesses" arrested Wednesday.
So far, indictments have been brought against 33 people. Eighteen individuals have been arrested (including three at the Sedona Temple). Those arrested include "Temple Mother" Tracey Elise and the director of the temple's school, Wayne Clayton

Twenty-two of the indictments are for being employed in a house of prostitution. There were also six indictments for running a house of prostitution, and four people were indicted for prostitution.

Phoenix Police Sergeant Steve Martos said at the press conference that practitioners at Phoenix Goddess Temple "engaged in acts of prostitution under the guide of religious freedom. They hid behind religious freedom to protect their crimes."

Martos explained that over the course of the past six months, undercover police officers "made deals at the temple to exchange money for sex acts." He also said police knew some practitioners at Phoenix Goddess Temple were also traveling to the Sedona Temple to work. 

The raid in Sedona included a house near the temple where all temple employees were living.  

Asked if Phoenix police officers engaged in any activities during the course of their investigation that could be considered entrapment, Martos replied, "I don't want to give away too many details of the investigation, but there are policies we follow, guidelines we use so we don't entrap people ... you can presume in this case that acts of prostitution were arranged."

Montgomery also said the the investigation has been ongoing since New Times and local media have written about the Temple, but that investigators needed to gather enough evidence for probable cause to obtain the search warrant police served yesterday.

Martos says none of the temple's clients have been arrested and police are not pursuing potential charges against them at this time. Part of the reason, Martos says, is that the temple didn't keep detailed records on their clients, but the main reason is because police are "focused on the temple and its employees."

The police vice squad investigation into Phoenix Goddess Temple concluded yesterday, but Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery says they still have plenty on their to-do list. "Based on the investigation to date, additional charges will be coming."

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29 comments
WTF22012
WTF22012

I just wanted to thank New Times for creating another problem where none existed, just for another weeks edition of your sleazy weekly. Numerous people busted at the Goddess Temple have been hurt including women having their children taken from them by Child Protective Services despite their being excellent mothers. All as part of a script, pioneered by the former Maricopa County Attorney Thomas, as a springboard to another elective by the current County Attorney.  So congratulations New Times, here is hoping the karma you have created for your self continues in the State Attorney Generals pursuit of the Backpages. Goddamned hypocrites.

Ckvazquez
Ckvazquez

Thank you for covering the story and bringing light to this unfortunate situation. Although you did not mention human trafficking, also commonly referred to modern-day slavery, this particular situation is human trafficking. Under the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act (2000), human trafficking is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to induce/compel/subject an individual to provide labor, services, or commercial sex against their will. Any minor under the age of 18 involved in commercial sex acts is automatically deemed a victim of human trafficking.

You mentioned the pimps quite often and always referred "his" girls to prostitutes, where in actually they were victims of human trafficking. I would love to see you take this story or another and focus on the high statistics of human trafficking in Phoenix. This is a very real problem, modern day slavery exits and I am working on the ground floor to help victims. But you have any opportunity to reach so many people with your voice.

To learn more about trafficking you can always get more information about the issue please visit www.PolarisProject.org.

Sincerely,-- Karla

Rahasya
Rahasya

I have heard rumors of other "religious" practices in America that are much more troubling.

Now that he has made such progress with the fringe, Bill Montgomery (and is your favourite sheriff involved?) will perhaps have the courage to take on more seriously illegal religious practices.

This may sound crazy, but I have heard:

The "supplicants" of this "religion" take one of the most deadly of all mind altering drugs – alcohol as their "sacrament" in a "ritual" called "communion". They sing, sometimes dance and have other practices designed to induce a hypnotic trance which they call "religious ecstasy". The ritual is rich with vampiric and cannibalistic overtones, with specific references to the consumption of human flesh and blood. Worst of all, they allow and even encourage children (by the USA definition) to participate fully in the "ritual", even partaking of the "sacrament".

Unlike Tantra, this "faith" is overtly evangelistic and worryingly militaristic. They are rumoured to have "Sunday Schools" where their young sing songs like "Onward Christian Soldiers" and endure other mind-control style indoctrination.

These criminals are using the excuse of "religious tradition and practice" to cover a multitude of sins. Supplying under-age drinkers is commonly regarded as a fairly serious crime with real victims.

We look forward to "Operation Patriarchal Church" in which the Phoenix PD undertakes a SIX month "operation" to gather video "evidence" of the serious crimes of the ritual some ominously call a "Mass".

Efrt
Efrt

Waste of tax funds- how about protecting the border

A concerned Senior Citizen
A concerned Senior Citizen

We are senior citiszens marred 38 years who have been attending teaching sessions and programs at the Goddess Temple this past year. I don't know what went on upstairs but the programs were excellent programs helpful to the community and helpful to us personally.It would be a crime if the Goddess Temple was closed down. It is pathetic that the police think they have done a public service here. 

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Phxtemplesux
Phxtemplesux

they are dirty whores.  I hope they rot in jail for a long time!!!   goodbye goddess temple!!!!

Big Mike
Big Mike

Jesus....I'd rather jack it than stick it to one of these butt-ugly "goddesss"

William M
William M

How many assaults, rapes, burglaries, robberies were committed while this investigation of a victimless crime was going on? This is a big shame. Legalize prostitution for once. Most developed nations legalized it. In Canada it's legal (Google search for the law first before you go there). It's legal in Mexico and most of Central and South America despite the Catholicism. Legal in most of Europe. The USA is still a puritan holdout. Grow up, get out of the dark ages and let's focus on getting rid of real criminals.

elektron
elektron

These people at the temple got exactly what they deserved.   Im glad they took them out

StPeter
StPeter

Man, these "goddesses" are muckin fugly! How cld you get wood lookin at that?

Seedy Ward
Seedy Ward

Now Montgomery really IS a prostituting attorney!

Hegelskitchen
Hegelskitchen

New Times should devote more energy to real local news stories of unsustainable development, environmental catastrophes, real estate disasters, political corruption and the sex slave trade which is present in the Valley, and stop focusing on this New Age bunch of relatively harmless folks. I can see where this PHX Goddess Temple story fits the snark factor very well for New Times however, a publication that never misses a chance to for a lame attempt at prurience and douchebag humor.

WTF22012
WTF22012

It is too bad that you deal in misinformation. Yes there is some human trafficking in the United States but it is really miniscule in relation to the number of sex workers who are voluntarily in the business. THe problem for people such as yourself Karla is that the internet has opened up sex work totally to the independent sex worker. There are very few pimps working in relation to the number of sex workers but then facts are not a strong point with people of your political persuasion.

WTF22012
WTF22012

Just like homophobes have a problem with their own inner homosexuality ( I mean strap a sensor to Rick Santorum's penis and show him gay porn, bet he reacts like a raging bull) it is obvious how deeply disturbed sexually and mentally you are. You not only express hatred of these women but you put the title of the Goddess Temple in your profile name! See a psychiatrist, get some mental health help before you do something dangerous. YOu are one sick MoFo.

outspoken
outspoken

@ william M u answered ur own question. America has the most assualts, rapes, murders, robberies, etc.. And u want to legalize  prostitution to???? Geezzz get a grip hillbilly!

BenGibbard'sHair
BenGibbard'sHair

NO shit! These fuckers are pretty liberal with the term "Goddess" Who in the fuck would pay to throw it in there? Jesus H. Christ.

phxtemplesux
phxtemplesux

Yes I hate this women, they give women a bad name.  I love women that do something with their lives that doesnt involve hand jobs and prostate massages.

Angela Honey
Angela Honey

outspoken, when you repress sexuality you create assaults, rapes etc Duh, its sociology and criminology 101. Even basic psychology.

When you teach people to fear, shame and guilt regarding our most basic human expressions it makes for dysfunctional living.

Do you want to know the truth? Your mother and father actually had sex to conceive you!!!! Yip, even your neighbours have sex! In fact, most people in your city!

Freedom isn't freedom if it doesnt include sexual identity and expression....

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