Janesville man accused of old-school prostitution

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Frank Schultz
Thursday, January 16, 2014

JANESVILLE—As Janesville police gear up to address the problem of prostitutes who advertise online, they are dealing with a prostitution case they believe goes back long before the Internet became a part of daily life.

Police on Tuesday arrested an elderly man who is believed to have been taking photographs of nude women for decades in a storage building on Delavan Drive.

Police accuse the man of paying some of those women for sex.

In consultation with the district attorney's office, police on Tuesday arrested him on felony charges of soliciting for prostitution and maintaining a place of prostitution.

The accused is Robert L. Patterson, 87, of 404 Rockport Road, Janesville.

Patterson has been photographing women in the Delavan Drive building for decades, Deputy Chief Danny Davis said.

Davis estimated hundreds of women were involved, making $20 to $60 for posing or for providing sexual favors to Patterson.

No other men were involved, as far as police know.

Davis said women often learned by word of mouth that Patterson would pay for the nude poses. In some cases, Patterson would read local news about women fined for crimes. He would track down the women and offer to help them pay off the fines by posing.

The investigation began in April, when Patterson told police he had been robbed by some unknown person at 1012 Delavan Drive. Police interviewed neighbors, and one of them said it was known that Patterson took photos of naked women in the storage building.

The neighbor speculated Patterson knew more about the robbery than he told police.

Police talked to Patterson again, and he eventually admitted the photography and the prostitution, Davis said.

Some of the women were regulars at the storage facility for a considerable time, Davis said, but some of those were there only to be photographed.

Davis said Patterson worked largely or exclusively with a film camera, and police have confiscated numerous printed photographs as evidence.

It appears Patterson did not sell or otherwise distribute the photos, Davis said.

The ages of the women varied. At least two were 18, but police do not believe juveniles were involved, Davis said.

Patterson was booked and released. The district attorneys' office on Thursday was still reviewing police reports.

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