Brown University Fears Prostitution Reports Could Tarnish Image
Mar. 13, 1986
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ Reports of a prostitution ring allegedly involving Brown University students could unfairly tarnish the Ivy League school's image, administrators said Thursday.
''We certainly have been the butt of a lot of very bad jokes and unwarranted conclusions about the morals of our student body,'' said Robert Reichley, vice president for university relations. ''We're talking about people's lives and reputations and the reputation of Brown.''
Reichley said he and other Brown officials were ''very angry'' at what the university considers ''undue and unfair and unwarranted emphasis on Brown'' by the media and Providence police.
''We have paid a very high price for being the ones in good conscience'' who initiated the investigation, he said. In September, a Brown student came to an administrator and said she was being coerced into prostitution. Administrators then called police.
Two Brown seniors were arrested last week on prostitution charges, and Providence police said Wednesday that photos of eight other former or current Brown women were among the photos of 46 women seized from a home that has become a focal point in the investigation.
Reichley said it was unfair to focus on the Brown women because they represent a minority of those allgedly involved. He also said there were only six other Brown students identified in the photos, not eight as police said.
Reichley said four of the six have been contacted and have denied participation in a prostitution ring. He said police could not reach the other two. Police, however, said two Brown students - not those charged - have admitted being members of theoperation.
''The media has jumped to unwarranted conclusions that Brown is the center of the focus of this investigation, when it is becoming clearer by the hour that this is an ever-expanding, ever-widening investigatatio n,'' Reichley said.
He also said the media have not focused on the police theory that coercion and extortion could have played a part in the alleged prostitution ring.
Some students also said the allegations will damage Brown's reputation.
''It's going to be very negative for Brown's image,'' said Mark Koide, 22, a senior from Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., and former president of the Brown student council.
But others interviewed believe people across the country will just dismiss it as another offbeat event that has plunged the 222-year-old university into headlines in recent years.
Jill Zuckman, 20, a junior from Rockville, Md., and editor of The Brown Daily Herald, pointed to a recent fast by four anti-apartheid protesters and the October 1984 campus referendum calling for the university to stockpile suicide pills in case of a nuclear war.
''The prestige of the university is something that comes up when national press comes to Brown,'' she said. ''They were here with the suicide pills and everyone across the country thought we were going to kill ourselves. Then the fasters.''
''Everyone runs to the admissions office and asks, 'Is anyone going to want to come to Brown now?' And nothing seems to happen,'' she said. ''In the long run I really don't think it's going to change Brown.''
The investigation has focused on a converted carriage house in a fashionable section of Providence near the campus. Police raided the condominium Friday and found more than 100 photos of the 46 women in ''various stages of undress.'' The owner of the home has not been charged.
Neighbors said they never noticed unusual activity at the home since the man moved in about a year ago. The house sits near the end of Benefit Street, a narrow street with brick sidewalks, lantern-style lights and brick-and- clapboard homes marked with preservation society plaques dating back to the 18th century.
The students arrested, Dana E. Smith of Avon, Conn., and Rebecca R. Kidd, of Orange, Conn., are scheduled for a pretrial hearing Wednesday on the loitering for prostitution charges.
Reichley said both remain on campus. No disciplinary action is planned, he said.
Although the two women arrested have charged police entrapment, police said they are cooperating with the investigation and supplied information that led to the raid.