Physics professor David C. Flory, of Fairleigh Dickinson University, is in police custody after he was arrested on 40 counts of promoting prostitution. The allegedly pimping professor was nabbed while sitting at a Starbucks in Albuquerque.
Authorities say Flory—who works at FDU's Teaneck, NJ campus and has a vacation home in Santa Fe—ran a website called Southwest Companions, which provided sexxxy social networking for 1,400 sex workers and johns. (Think Facebook + eBay + AdultFriendFinder.) Albuquerque Police Lt. William Roseman explains to the AP:
He said he was not in this for the money. He flat-out told us his thing was he wanted to create a safe place for prostitutes and johns to get together. He called it a hobby.
Southwest Companions had three levels of membership: Probation, verified, and trust. Roseman continues:
In order to get off probation you had to sleep with one of the prostitutes on the website and she in turn would tell the moderator (Flory) what acts occurred, how much they paid and any comments. That opened you up to verified status. Once you got into verified status that opened you up to different girls available. Then, some would e-mail the moderator, "This is the act, this is how much he paid, these are my comments about it."
Jersey newspaper The Record reports that Flory is believed to have had "hands-on involvement" in the site's content: "He took down an advertisement he believed was too graphic and told the prostitute to rewrite it, according to the arrest warrant. He posted tips on how not to get caught and removed profiles of people who had been arrested or were suspected of working with police, the document says." He took precautions to keep the site away from mainstream web traffic and search engines.
How did the police finally snag web savvy smooth operator?
Flory used his university e-mail address to start the site, which helped police identify him, Roseman said.
Fairleigh Dickinson University has placed Flory on probation. His staff bio has been removed from their website. (A cached version is here.) On his personal website, Flory describes himself as a professor of physics and astronomy and an internet security enthusiast. [AP, Record. Mugshot via Albquerque PD, portrait via David Flory]