116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The monthlong prostitution and human trafficking investigation that culminated this week with 17 arrests and one teenage “rescue” in Coralville could have netted even more suspects, officers said.
“This ended up being bigger than any of us could have imagined,” said Coralville police Lt. Shane Kron.
The investigation, aimed at catching human trafficking and saving the young people involved, tapped more than 20 agencies and brought more than 30 officers to Coralville. And still, Kron said, “There were times when we were out of investigators.”
“We had to let some arrests go,” he said.
The operation could continue for a while as officers follow up on leads, Kron said. No additional arrests were made Thursday, but he said, “We are not done.”
“These are not all the arrests,” he said. “These are not all the charges.”
Officers conducted the undercover operation Tuesday and Wednesday by posting online advertisements and sending undercover officers to undisclosed locations in Coralville.
The 17 people arrested came from 12 communities as far away as Milwaukee, Wis., and they range in age from 20 to 58. Among those arrested were three local medical professionals, two University of Iowa students and a woman accused of selling her teenage sister for sex.
Melody McCullom, 21, of Waterloo, faces felony charges of pimping, pandering involving a minor, human trafficking and prostitution after she admitted to operating an online business that nets thousands of dollars a week, according to a criminal complaint.
McCullom, according to the complaint, also admitted to using her 16-year-old sister in her business and to taking money from the teen.
She is accused of creating an Internet page for her younger sister that advertised her availability for “meetings,” and McCullom admitted at least two recent occasions when the girl committed sexual acts with men, according to police.
The local medical professionals named among those arrested include Lance P. Forbes, a 42-year-old clinical assistant professor at the UI College of Dentistry; Timothy J. Maves, a 51-year-old anesthesiologist at Mercy Iowa City; and Scott B. Clemons, a 44-year-old with Clemons & Jones Family Dentistry.
All three were arrested on suspicion of prostitution.
According to a criminal complaint, Forbes - who joined the UI College of Dentistry in 1998 - is accused of paying an undercover police officer $150 for oral sex.
Forbes, according to the UI, provides clinical teaching to predoctoral and postdoctoral students. He was not at work Thursday and could not be reached for comment. Spokesman Tom Moore said Forbes is still a UI employee, but he wouldn't comment about whether the professor will be disciplined by the university.
Maves, according to a complaint, responded to an advertisement on backpages.com for an escort service. He paid an undercover officer $175 for a sex act, according to the complaint.
Mark Bowden, executive director of the Iowa Board of Medicine, said the board considers whether the charge is relevant to the physician's practice or raises questions about that person's judgment before deciding what action to take, if any, against a professional license.
Melanie Johnson, executive director of the Iowa Dental Board, said charges against a dentist would not have to be related to a dental practice for the board to take disciplinary action.
Other people arrested in connection with the prostitution sting include: Nicole Chapek, 28, of Altoona; Changya Chen, 21, of Coralville; Randy Cooper, 45, of Cedar Rapids; Moises Garay, 25, of Cedar Rapids; William Heitz, 51, of Walford; James Jackson, 58, of Oxford; Bre Levi, 20, of North Liberty; Jacob Kolar, 21, of Iowa City; Mercedes Love-Anderson, 22, of Milwaukee, Wis.; Shanquetta Nix, 22, of Cedar Falls; Laura Robertson, 27, of Eau Claire, Wis.; and Randall Wieland, 55, of Riverside.
All of them face a charge of prostitution. Levi faces an additional charge of child endangerment because police said she took a 3-month-old child, unsecured in a vehicle, with her to a location where she was “going to commit a criminal act.”
Dwan Moore, 28, of Cedar Rapids, was charged with a probation violation but not prostitution.
Two of the people arrested are listed in the UI student directory. Chen is listed as a graduate research student in internal medicine, and Kolar is listed as a student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Chen told The Gazette that he moved to Iowa from China last year and didn't understand the advertisement.
“I didn't know the meaning of the words,” he said. “I didn't know that it was a bad thing and it was a crime. I thought it was a date thing. I didn't know how this happened.”