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New York Couple Faces Prostitution Charges

October 2, 1989

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) _ An affluent New York doctor and his wife are facing prostitution-related charges for allegedly conducting a phony research project that included a sex tour of West Coast college campuses.

Rodney Thorp Wood, 60, faces a charge of promoting prostitution while his wife, Nancy Steffen Wood, 44, faces a prostitution charge, Eugene police Sgt. Rick Gilliam said last week.

The Woods were originally ordered to appear in court today, but Lane County assistant district attorney Sean Hoar said today that attorneys agreed to delay the appearance while the investigation continued. If convicted, Wood faces up to five years in prison and a $100,000 fine, Mrs. Wood up to a year and a $2,500 fine.

A 19-year-old University of Oregon student who allegedly participated in a ″research″ session with the Woods is charged with prostitution.

The Southampton, N.Y., couple visited the Oregon campus two weeks ago, telling male students they were ″evaluating the sexual potential of the mature female″ for an Oxford University project and would pay participants at least $10 for the encounter, Gilliam said.

Mrs. Wood distributed ″letters of introduction″ explaining the supposed research project to young men on campus, Gilliam said.

The couple were arrested after police, tipped by two students, sent an undercover officer posing as a student to their hotel.

Police later found a list of schools including Oregon State University, the University of Washington, the University of Victoria, British Columbia, and the University of California at Berkeley, Gilliam said.

″They were traveling the West Coast with major universities on their itinerary,″ Gilliam said. ″As I understand from a background check in New York, they’re real affluent and giving away this kind of money isn’t going to hurt them any.″

The 19-year-old was identified through photographs the Woods took and through a form listing biographical and sexual information about him, Gilliam said. Police were unable to locate a second man who appeared to have taken part in another session, he said.

″Because there was money exchanged for a sexual act, it was prostitution,″ Gilliam said.

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