Ex-Husky Overton pleads not guilty to pimping girlfriend

Ex-Husky Overton pleads not guilty to pimping girlfriend
Venoy Overton is seen during his arraignment in King County Superior Court on Thursday, June 30, 2011.
KENT, Wash. - Former University of Washington basketball player Venoy Overton pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that he pimped his girlfriend to earn money for him while he sat unemployed awaiting his first professional basketball contract.

Overton, 22, is being held at the Regional Justice Center on a charge of second-degree promoting prostitution.

His attorney, James Bible, argued Thursday that Overton should be released from jail on his own recognizance given his "lack of criminal history (and) strong ties to the community." The judge then ordered the bail amount reduced from $150,000 to $25,000.

Bible also said after the court hearing that "a lot of misinformation" has been floating around about the case.

"There needs to be a through review, there needs to be an investigation, there needs to witnesses who are interviewed not just by the police department and by the prosecutor but by those who have the interests of Overton in mind," Bible said.

Overton was arrested June 16 after undercover officers contacted an 18-year-old woman about prostitution in an area known for the activity.

Kent police say the woman told them her boyfriend, Overton, had brought her to the area and told her to perform acts of prostitution. Police say the woman added she'd been told what to charge and had given a portion of the money to Overton.

According to court documents, the woman and Overton met in September, and on May 18, the woman called Overton crying because she was not earning money through her part-time job. The woman later told detectives that she had always given half her earnings to Overton, who is unemployed, with his promise that he would take care of her when he signed his first professional basketball contract.

Later that day, the two met up and Overton told her she was going to walk the "track" - a term given to areas where prostitution is known to be prevalent - and said, "you're going to try walkin'," detectives wrote.

She said Overton took her to a restaurant in the 23200 block of Pacific Highway South and told her to walk south to a gas station eight blocks away. She objected, but Overton said that it was an easy way to make money and she wouldn't have to do it anymore once he made it in the "league", court documents said.

Overton then instructed her to get the money before performing any sex acts and advised her of the "going rates," and to watch out for police, detectives said.

The woman told detectives she was very scared and practically ran the eight blocks before getting back in Overton's car. According to the documents, Overton told her "it's OK, you just need to get used to it," and that she just needed to get the first "trick" out of the way and it would get easier.

The couple met again the next day and the woman said Overton pressured her into a second attempt, telling her he would "do it for her if he could" and that he really needed the money, investigators said.

The woman told detectives this time she did pick up a man who paid her $200 for sex. After she was dropped off at the gas station, she met up with Overton who praised her efforts, then asked her for his cut, detectives wrote. She handed him $100, which she claims he immediately spent on filling his gas tank and buying a cigar. Investigators say surveillance video at the gas station shows Overton buying a cigar.

On May 20, Overton told her to go back again to "get used to walking the track," documents said. After her repeated objections, she says Overton told her, "what you're doing for me now, I'm going to make up for ten-fold in the future." She was dropped off at the restaurant and told this time to get two "tricks" done before contacting Overton, investigators said.

It was later this evening when the woman was contacted by the undercover officer and detained.

While recounting the story to detectives, she said she is still in love with Overton despite the way he had treated her, and he knows she would do anything for her, documents said. When asked why Overton would ask her to be a prostitute, she said Overton was motivated by money and promised several times that it would only be until he got a basketball contract.

After their investigation was completed, detectives arrested Overton at his apartment on June 16. In an interview with investigators after his arrest, Overton admitted he was in a sexual relationship with the woman but denied she was his girlfriend. He said she was in love with him and she "probably believed she was his girlfriend", later stating, "I guess she could be considered my girlfriend."

Overton continued that when he met the woman, he told her, "if you wanna talk to me, you gotta give me some money or something," to which she started giving him money a week after they met, investigators said.

He says she gave him no more than a $100 at a time, but it was consistent and that overall, he estimated she gave him $3,000 during their relationship. He said it was "basically" expected for her to give him money, detectives wrote.

Overton admitted he drove the woman to the area along Pacific Highway, told her what to charge, then told her to, "go try," and "good luck and be safe," documents said.

Detectives said Overton admitted to them that he knew what he did was wrong and that he screwed up. Asked why he did it, he responded, "I'm not gonna turn down money from a girl," documents said.